‘Just get on with it and get us out’

Sun­der­land fed-up with par­lia­men­tary Brexit de­lay

Daily Dispatch - - News - – AFP

“It just needs to be sorted,” said 23-year-old Adam Green, a frus­trated Leave voter in Brex­it­back­ing Sun­der­land, where pa­tience with par­lia­men­tary de­lays over Bri­tain’s de­par­ture is wear­ing thin.

The for­mer ship­build­ing city in north­east Eng­land, where the Nis­san car­maker plant is now the lifeblood, played a star­ring role in Bri­tain’s seismic de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union.

The city’s 61% vote in favour of leav­ing in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum sig­nalled early on where the na­tion was head­ing on the night of June 23 2016 and cel­e­bra­tions at the count were beamed world­wide.

Now, as MPs pre­pare for Tues­day’s de­ci­sion on whether or not to back the divorce deal struck be­tween Lon­don and Brus­sels, vot­ers in Sun­der­land are urg­ing them to get on with it and get Bri­tain out.

The years of wran­gling since the ref­er­en­dum over how, or even if, Bri­tain leaves have cer­tainly damp­ened the high spir­its of that June 2016 night.

“It’s be­come an ab­so­lute joke,” said Green, who is un­em­ployed for med­i­cal rea­sons.

“It’s dis­re­spect­ing my vote com­pletely. My­self and my whole fam­ily voted for us to come out,” he said.

“The MPs need to get their heads down and get us out.

“I just want it over and done with be­cause I’m sick of hear­ing about Brexit,” he added.

The Univer­sity of Sun­der­land cam­pus was built in the 1990s on the site of for­mer ship­yards that once dom­i­nated the banks of the River Wear in this work­ing-class city of 275,000 peo­ple.

The heavy in­dus­try has largely evap­o­rated, though the docks are still go­ing.

Be­sides its cur­rent car­mak­ing prow­ess, Sun­der­land’s pride now rests on its foot­ball team.

De­spite two straight rel­e­ga­tions to the third-tier League One, the Black Cats still draw huge crowds to games.

“Sun­der­land is a city where peo­ple feel quite rooted, with a strong sense of com­mu­nity,” said Peter Hayes, the univer­sity’s se­nior lec­turer in pol­i­tics.

“That per­haps makes them feel a lit­tle bit less cos­mopoli­tan,” he told re­porters.

“There’s a kind of anti-elite feel­ing in Sun­der­land,” he said, ex­plain­ing the Leave vote – which went against Ja­pa­nese car­maker Nis­san’s pref­er­ence.

“If we leave the EU on bad terms, there are very se­ri­ous eco­nomic prob­lems that Sun­der­land is go­ing to face,” he added, say­ing that if Nis­san shifted pro­duc­tion to Europe, it would be a dis­as­ter.

Bri­tain’s largest car fac­tory em­ploys more than 7,000 work­ers and builds 500,000 ve­hi­cles per year. Some 55% are ex­ported tar­iff-free to the EU.

A city coun­cil­lor for the proEU op­po­si­tion Lib­eral Democrats, Stephen O’Brien, said a no-deal Brexit’s ef­fect on the city’s man­u­fac­tur­ing would be “more dev­as­tat­ing than los­ing the pits

Strolling along Roker Beach, a sweep­ing bay where kayak­ers brave the chilly North Sea, 67year-old Brian Halse said: “It’s and the boat in­dus­try”. just a sham­bles. I did vote for Brexit. I think we’re bet­ter off by our­selves.

“I like [Prime Min­is­ter] Theresa May but no­body’s back­ing her the way they should. We should all stick to­gether and go out the best way we can.”

Ron­nie Quinn, 60, said MPs were act­ing like chil­dren in­stead of up­hold­ing the ref­er­en­dum re­sult.

“I voted to leave. The coun­try’s made a choice and they should all be work­ing to­gether to shift Bri­tain out,” he said.

“I would pre­fer no deal. The coun­try did all right be­fore the EU.”

But Liz Su­laiman, 74, said she was more wor­ried about the ef­fects of a po­ten­tial no-deal Brexit on her grand­chil­dren.

“Sun­der­land’s al­ready not do­ing so well so I don’t think it’s go­ing to do any bet­ter,” the house­wife said.

“You’re go­ing to lose a lot of jobs. We don’t need that in the north­east. It’s all hap­pen­ing in the south; they don’t seem to care about us. If we lose Nis­san, we lose an aw­ful lot.”

Pic­ture: REUTERS/HENRY NI­CHOLLS

CALL FOR NO BREXIT: Pro­test­ers hold ban­ners as they par­tic­i­pate in an anti-Brexit demon­stra­tion march in cen­tral Lon­don at the week­end. Pro and anti-Brexit pro­tes­tors clashed on Satur­day as MPs pre­pared for Tues­day’s de­ci­sion whether or not to back the divorce deal struck be­tween Lon­don and Brus­sels.

THERESA MAY

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