BREXIT Episode Nine - The Big Gamble

Episode Nine - The Big Gamble

I suppose over nearly two weeks I had spoken with a hundred or so people from all sides. Often they asked me what I thought would come of Brexit. One day in Boston I answered that both possibilities seemed like Doomsday scenarios; The UK leaves and it crashes, or the UK leaves and makes a great success of it, and Europe crashes. I hope I am wrong about both.

On my penultimate day in the UK, I drove a few miles north out of Boston to the seaside resort of Skegness - I needed a new horizon, a new perspective.

The town is full of casinos and old fashioned gambling halls - packed with the opportunity to risk a few pennies, or to risk it all. And it struck me that Brexit is one big gamble.

During my time in the UK, many said that, after nearly three years, they were tired of Brexit - it’s been a constant backdrop to the political and economic narrative - they are fatigued and want to move on, however bad it is, they needed to know now. I had been living this for just two weeks, and I didn’t want a single conversation more. The British had come to hate politicians. It reminded me of my adopted home, France.

So I walked along a sunlit beach and chatted with Martin. ‘Can I talk to you about Brexit?’ I asked, and it opened a floodgate of emotions for him.

‘I hate it. What have we done? I wrote to my MP but she just changes her position constantly’.


Martin had spent three years in the Catering Corp in the British Army. I asked why he left and he said, ‘I signed up for five years but I left after three. I bought myself out of the army. I realised it was just a lie’

“Sometimes I could bloody cry."

He then spoke of the great sadness he feels for his children who he said grew up as Europeans. He said, “Sometimes I could bloody cry. I think the younger generation were born with this unity and they are the ones that are going to suffer the most.” And then I really thought he might cry. I was pleased I had left Boston for the day.

I asked him about the immigration issues that so many voted against and he said this, ‘We have betrayed the workers who came here, failed them. All the ones I have worked with contribute to our country. We are betraying our promise to them. They’ve got a right to feel cheated’.

"One tree doesn’t make a forest."

I walked a little further and I bumped into a Nigerian guy, and he said to me ‘Are you doing something about Brexit?’ ‘Why do you ask?’ I asked. And he said ‘One tree doesn’t make a forest. We need Europe, they don’t need us. We shouldn’t leave.’ And with that he walked on.

So I took a photo of an ocean wind farm, with just one isolated wind turbine, distant from the rest. It was the photograph of his saying, that I didn’t take of him.

Stewart said, "Europe's telling us how we can run our country. And I don’t agree with that."

I continued my amble, and met a an old punk rocker called Stewart. He was still living in the late 1970’s and was happy to admit it. He spoke of his love for Margaret Thatcher, the demolition of the unions, and how we don’t need Europe.

Stewart said “My grandfather fought in the war against Rommel in North Africa, and now I think ‘what we did we do it for?' We saved Europe long before the Yanks came in - we’d won it by then. And now they are telling us how we can run our country. And I don’t agree with that. As much as I am a punk, I’m not an anarchist”

As I photographed him, the old, unchanged town of Skegness lay behind me, in the middle distance was the ‘wind farm’, a sign of progress and modernity, and somewhere in the distance across the muddy North Sea, was Europe - not so far away, but further than ever. It felt like the past, today, and tomorrow all in one.

In just a couple of hours I had gone from high emotion and arrived at staunch belief. It was the full spectrum, three people, and the all the nuances of the countless arguments I have heard here. And it confirmed everything I have felt… this is one massive gamble, and no one knows the winner yet.

Created By
Martin Middlebrook


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