Whether leavers or remainers, few in the town have good things to say about feuding politicians.
There are few things connected to Brexit on which you can find an easy consensus. But if the people of Hastings are any guide, most will happily agree on one thing: the current impasse has not painted the nation’s politicians in a good light.
Immediately after Jeremy Corbyn set out his latest response to the collapse of Theresa May’s Brexit plan, the most commonly used descriptive term in the East Sussex town is “a mess”.
“Just blow the bloody lot up. Especially the Conservatives,” one passerby shouted at the Thursday market as he overheard the Guardian discussing the issue with Colette Rayner, who was spending her 55th birthday running a milkfloat stall selling organic dairy products and meat.
“Everyone needs to stop being so childish,” Rayner said. “It’s like with [David] Cameron when he decided he didn’t want to be prime minister any more. Half the people who were telling us what to do at the time have walked away since.”
Rayner backed leave, as did 55% of people in Hastings, and she now wants a no-deal departure. “We should have left on the day after. We decided on the facts as best we knew them at the time. Just stop messing about.”
She conceded that this view had caused some tension with her sons, one of whom lives elsewhere in the EU. Rayner produced her phone and showed a long discussion on the family WhatsApp group that ended with one son urging his mother to “stop talking about politics”.
Another local, identifying herself only as Nicole, 31, also saw the issue through the prism of her children, aged 11 and four, but said she worried mainly about their future prospects.
“What if they want to live in the EU? I’m not convinced the people who voted leave were the ones it’s really going to impact,” she said. “Without trying to be rude, I think a lot of older people were stuck in their ways.”
Simon Eaton, 51, walking nearby with his terrier, Buster, said he backed leave but was equally aghast at where things were. “It’s such a mess. I really don’t see how we get out of this,” he said. “I despise David Cameron for putting us in this situation in the first place. It’s divided people, it’s divided communities, it’s divided the country.
“I voted for Brexit purely because of David Cameron and George Osborne and their scaremongering. I wasn’t going to be patronised like that. In hindsight if we’d known what was going to happen I think the result would have been very different.
While Corbyn remains ambivalent about the idea of a second referendum, Kenshole said this was her preferred option. “I really hope they’re now going to push for a new referendum, and people who didn’t or couldn’t vote last time will have their say.”
The most pithily eloquent responses come from a man waiting for his wife outside a shop, who declined to give his name but answered a series of quickfire questions.
Theresa May? “She’ll never win anything again.” Jeremy Corbyn? “He’s an arsehole.” Would there be another referendum? “No.” How was it all going to end? “A mess.”
Credit: Guardian website