‘Maybe this is the start of some­thing big­ger’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Brexit -

French-born pro­fes­sional ma­gi­cian Eti­enne Pradier, who lives in Wye and has per­formed in front of dig­ni­taries in­clud­ing David Cameron and Prince Charles, said he had mixed feel­ings about Bri­tain leav­ing the EU.

He said: “I have lived here for 35 years so, I feel more Bri­tish than Euro­pean, but this is a shock for me.”

Mr Pradier de­scribed con­ver­sa­tions he’d had with a fel­low par­ent at the school gates, who was Dutch but had also been in the UK for sev­eral decades.

“She said she’d never felt like a for­eigner at the school gates be­fore. Maybe this is the start of some­thing big­ger.

“My per­sonal feel­ing is that this is very bad for ev­ery­thing but we have to re­spect what the peo­ple have voted for.”

The chair­man of Ash­ford Twin­ning As­so­ci­a­tion, which fre­quently or­gan­ises vis­its to its twin towns of Bad Mün­stereifel in Ger­many and Fougères in France, says the ref­er­en­dum will not ef­fect the friendly re­la­tions they en­joy with their Euro­pean neigh­bours.

Gil­lian Lines said: “Bri­tain vot­ing to leave the Euro­pean Union is not go­ing to af­fect us.

“We’re still go­ing to be last­ing friends and as an as­so­ci­a­tion we will still carry on or­gan­is­ing over­seas trips ev­ery year.

“We have 12 French stu­dents and two teach­ers com­ing to Eng­land in Septem­ber.

“They still want to see the Ash­ford cul­ture and that’s not go­ing to change.”

Jo James, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Ash­ford-based Kent In­victa Cham­ber of Com­merce, said: “The health of the econ­omy must be the num­ber one pri­or­ity – not the West­min­ster po­lit­i­cal post mortem.

“Firms across the UK want an im­me­di­ate and un­am­bigu­ous state­ment from the prime min­is­ter on next steps, along with a clear time­line for the UK’s exit from the EU.

“Busi­ness will also want to see a de­tailed plan to sup­port the econ­omy dur­ing the com­ing tran­si­tion pe­riod – as con­fi­dence, in­vest­ment, hir­ing and growth would all be deeply af­fected by a pro­longed pe­riod of un­cer­tainty.

“If ever there were a time to ditch the straight-jacket of fis­cal rules for in­vest­ment in a bet­ter busi­ness in­fra­struc­ture, this is it.”

Ma­gi­cian Eti­enne Pradier and Jo James

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