A step forward or a failure: Britons react to the Brexit deal

A Brexit deal has been agreed between the UK and the EU with Boris Johnson hailing it as a “jumbo, Canada-style” arrangement. The Guardian asked four people for their thoughts, with some pleased and others not.

‘It’s a complete failure’

Charles Turner from Leamington Spa, a sociology lecturer at the University of Warwick, is fairly certain of his views.

“This deal is a complete failure, it’s very simple. We won’t grow as fast as the rest of Europe, and I think by the first half of 2022, we’ll realise we’ll need a much closer relationship with the EU. The Scottish argument for independence will kick in and bring the economic argument right to the fore.

“Having reached the cliff edge, the UK has decided not to jump off after all.

“Instead it will find a rocky and steep path down to the stony beach below, with a few handrails along the way, and when it reaches the bottom it will walk along for a bit and then realise the best thing to do is to find another path to get it up to the top again, where it will try to resume its journey and possibly catch up with the others who are striding ahead.”

‘I voted to leave and I’m pleased’

Ken Thompson, 75, from the east Midlands, who used to work for the military, civil service and a national environmental charity, is happy about the deal but remains sceptical about the implications of Brexit, despite having voted for it.

“I’m pleased a deal has been struck and that the foundation of a long-term relationship with the EU has been agreed. At least it’s a step forward, everybody can breathe a sigh of relief and we can stop running around like headless chickens.

“As with all deals, there has been compromise, and I envisage multiple interest groups will condemn the prime minister. In this respect I think they are incorrect and premature.

“I wish to make it clear now that I do not support Boris Johnson. I regard him as a mix between a Captain WE Johns [creator of Biggles] character and Billy Bunter, who does nothing for the image of a modern United Kingdom.

“I’m a little concerned about how it is going to affect our agricultural sector. We use so much foreign labour, so that could have an impact on us, and the workers of course.

“We might end up like a vassal state, and will be told what to do. I’m quite happy to adopt some of the good EU legislation that has been developed, but it needs to be tailored to us.

“I know Europe is very much split on sovereignty. While the politicians want to present a united front, I think that’s a veneer. It’s a possibility that, as we evolve, we might go back in! Only time will tell.”

‘It’s no better than Theresa May’s deal’

Charles Lea, 73, from Lancashire, is exasperated. “This deal is a complete and an utter sellout. Right now, we’re still in the EU, so to speak, and the labour we’re trading at the moment is beneficial for both sides.

“The deal Boris has signed us up for is no better than Theresa May’s. I downloaded it this afternoon, and it reads a bit like War and Peace. Boris has given fishing away. He’s not just talking fish quotas. He’s mentioning specific types of fish and has completely destroyed the Scottish fishing industry.

“Nobody signed up for any of this. I just don’t understand why he’s taken this route. We weren’t given the full facts and should have had all the facts prior to the 2016 referendum.

“This is a bad deal not just for the UK as a whole but for the EU and its member states. This is not the time for gloating or self-praise, this whole sorry saga will go on and on for years, and there won’t be winners.”

‘I’m glad a no-deal was avoided, but I weep silently’

Teresa Curtis, 64, from Stockport, a retired midwife, health visitor and university lecturer, is glad a deal has been reached, but has strong reservations.

“Whilst I certainly did not relish a no-deal scenario, I cannot see any benefit to the UK within this agreement.

“We had a sound and mutually satisfactory relationship as a member of the EU where we were stakeholders and had a voice. Now we are merely an appendage, increasingly isolated and irrelevant.

“I am completely outraged at the loss of the Erasmus programme, which I saw at first hand during my university tenure as so beneficial to participating students. The words of Joni Mitchell – ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ – have never rung so true.

“I am concerned about the restrictions on freedom of movement. Insurance premiums will be higher, especially for the over-60s. Food prices here will rise and of course there will be job losses, which no doubt this unscrupulous government will seek to blame on Covid.

“I fear that the seeds of racism have already been sown and will grow as we become ever more inward-looking, and that the cultural norms we have incorporated into our lives since joining the EU will be eroded.

“I weep silently for all the young people whose lives will be inevitably restricted.”


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