Since the referendum, some remain voters have become Brexiters; and vice versa. But what’s made them change their views so radically?
Voted leave, but now think the UK should remain in the EU
Barbara Morgan, 73, Newton Abbot, Devon
I voted to leave the EU purely as an emotionally driven response, to rid ourselves of David Cameron and George Osborne. Now, I think, with our country dangerously divided and politicians of all parties discredited, we should listen to British businesses and preserve jobs by voting to remain. The EU is by no means an ideal partner, but better the devil you know. Why take a step into the unknown?
In the referendum, we were asked to vote while blind to the facts; we were totally unprepared and ill-informed. Now that we understand the consequences, we can make a better assessment of the impact on our children’s and grandchildren’s futures. I am also beginning to agree with members of the younger generation who feel betrayed that the small majority in the referendum was largely down to votes by senior citizens, who will not inherit the problems their reckless actions will bring.
If we leave, there will be huge uncertainty and a protracted period of readjustment during which many thousands of jobs will be lost. Our vital services will be undermined, and securing trade deals with the rest of the world will take much too long. It’s my democratic right to change my mind, and I think we should stay.
Duncan Manton, 37, south Lincolnshire
I’m a qualified maths teacher, but stopped working at Christmas because we have three small children. My wife is a chef. I felt, and still feel, the EU is an unnecessary organisation that allows richer countries to leech workers from its poorer members. There’s too much reliance on other nations, and I’d like to see us invest in proper training, so that we don’t have to rely on foreign nationals.
The vote was really over whether we wanted a change, and I did. I didn’t expect leave to win, to be honest. Also, we shouldn’t have triggered article 50 so soon. Instead, we should have recognised that the British public had only narrowly suggested we leave, gone back to the EU and asked them how they could persuade us to stay.
Changing my mind has been gradual; the effect it will have on my family has finally dawned on me. My parents have lived in Bulgaria for more than 10 years, and I worry about how they may be treated. People in Bulgaria are lovely, but there’s corruption and a sense that some may think: “You’ve shut the door on us, so why should we treat you with any respect?”
My side of the family is quite anti-Brexit, and my wife’s is more pro-Brexit. We don’t really argue about it, but there’s very much a sense that we have all been let down. What is happening now is not in the people’s interests. Bloody politicians: mucking everything up.
Mohammed Younis, 50, Birmingham
I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and struggle to walk. And I stopped working in 1996, when I found out I had a brain tumour. I believed the bus advert that said the NHS would get £350m if we left the EU. The NHS has been going down the pan, and, instead of sending that money to Brussels, I thought it would be wicked if we could get better funding. Soon after, it became clear we weren’t going to get that money. I felt betrayed and disappointed that people in power had been lying.
The Conservative party and the Labour party are both putting their own interests above that of the nation. I’ve voted Labour all my life, but Jeremy Corbyn is ignoring the members. I didn’t think all these companies – Panasonic, Sony and Dyson – would leave the UK over Brexit, but they are. Even the government’s own forecast states that it will harm our economy.
If we had a vote today, I would vote to remain. I wouldn’t call it a second referendum, though, as I didn’t vote for Theresa May’s deal in 2016. My family voted to remain at the time and tried to tell me that the NHS is helped by EU funding. I talk to people on Twitter and Facebook now about Brexit and some call me a “remoaner”. I’m not a remoaner, I’ve just seen the light: #remainernow.
Voted remain, but now think the UK should leave
Claire Enders, 61, London
I’m a telecoms and media strategy analyst. I disagreed with vote leave because I felt it was supported by the Russians and Americans, who were trying to destabilise Europe. The EU has also made progress in bringing about regulatory change of social media companies, which I think do present a pernicious problem for children in our country. I am a fervent SNP supporter. I’ve never been in favour of independence, but I believe in other things the SNP stands for in its manifesto … 62% of people in Scotland voted to remain in the EU.
We’ve been in decline ever since the vote, but I think it is essential for the UK to honour the result and to meet its financial and legal obligations upon dissolving its treaty with the EU. The exit needs to be on the basis of the May withdrawal agreement, which our government negotiated in good faith. There’s a necessity to move on from this political crisis, and, as long as we’re going somewhere that’s better than today, that’s OK. What we want now is just to save the fabric of this country. I don’t think we’ll be able to work our way back if we crash out with no deal. Let’s leave now on the terms we have, and repair things over the next decade.
Michael Budgen, 46, Caterham, Surrey
I’ve been director of a company that manufactures shop display material for nearly 20 years. Some of our goods are manufactured abroad, and we employ nearly 100 staff. About 30 of them are EU nationals. We have done really well out of being part of the EU, and at the time I felt it was best for our company and staff to remain.
It took me about 12 months to change my mind. When the backlash started against those who voted to leave, I wanted to understand why they voted that way. I’ve always been pro-European, but, since the referendum, have become anti-EU. I feel that accepting EU membership was part of the compromise of being seen as European. As I now see it, the EU operates to benefit itself, not its citizens, and is no longer responding to the needs of our country. Hopefully, a reduction in economic migration will help slow down the rate of change in communities, allowing people to build ties within them.
I no longer feel our business will be adversely affected. In the end, companies will create systems that will smooth any obstacles the EU puts up. We buy machines from Switzerland and, even though they’re not part of the EU, we don’t encounter any problems. Things may be easier. Under the EU, there may be less paperwork, but that’s not a good enough reason to stay.
Lorna Stanley, 36, Rugby
I’m a stay-at-home mum to two children, and my husband works in IT. I’ve always considered myself to be European because my dad has lived in France since I was 11. I voted to remain, as I really wanted to keep my rights to live and work abroad, and to visit my family. From what I could see, there are just so many reasons to stay in. I know the EU is not perfect, and some parts of it can be quite cumbersome, but I am convinced that leaving the customs union will make us poorer.
I remember having a conversation with my husband a week after the vote. We were shocked and devastated, and knew there wouldn’t be a deal that would be better than being in the EU; also, it would put the European project under threat. However, I live in an area where a lot of people voted to leave, and if there were another referendum I think it could really disenfranchise them enough to never vote again.