Of the 100 migrants I spoke to, only 35 thought that Brexit would be a bad thingby Ben Judah / August 22, 2016 / Leave a comment
I spent the period around the Brexit vote slightly differently to most Britons—mostly with Romanian labourers. Were they frightened at the thought of Britain voting to “Leave” the European Union? Were they panicked by it? Plugged into the British press you’d have expected them to be inconsolable, trembling with fear. The reality, that I saw in the farms, doss houses and building sites in which I spent the time, is that they were nothing of the sort.
If you want to know Romanian London go to Burnt Oak or Edgware, both near the end of the Northern Line. In the build-up to Brexit this is where I was traipsing around. In and out of the Romanian shops, patisseries and pubs. This is the word I would use to sum up the attitudes of the labourers that I spoke to: indifference.
Most thought Britain would never leave the European Union. The Queen would stop it. The banks would stop it. Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama would stop it.
Referendums, went the Romanian word on the street, are all for show. Reality, went the gossip, is made by the superpowers and mysterious behind the scenes forces. Not by little countries like Britain and Romania and certainly not by voters. Out of 100 people I approached only 13 thought Brexit would happen. I found confusion, not fear. “If the Indians are allowed to vote then it will definitely be Out,” said Ionut, an unemployed labourer. “The Indians will vote Out to try and stop the Romanian competition.” There was a lot of this.