BREXIT Episode Eight - Clap with One Hand

Episode Eight - Clap with One Hand

Boston was hard work. Few would speak with me. And the reason was that the news media had come here and destroyed the ground for honest journalism. And I wanted to hear the view of the migrants.

In a place divided, it was hard to get people to talk.

But through people I knew or had met, I was getting this consistent theme - the Polish, Latvians and Lithuanians are scared about the future and are going home, to be replaced by Bulgarians and Romanians. I wanted to hear their stories. And finally after three days of trying, I got them.

Brexit has made them feel deeply insecure they tell me. Whilst some have citizenship, many don’t. And they would rather leave on their own terms than be told to go. But the twist in that tail is this - the first wave believe this is their patch of ground, and those that could vote, voted to leave because they don’t want others coming in and profiting from their hard work. It’s what we English call ‘turf wars’.

Zana said:

‘You can’t clap with one hand - all communities have to work together’

So the result of the insecurity that Brexit has created is that everyone is suffering. I met Kurdistani hairdresser, Zana and he said ‘You can’t clap with one hand - all communities have to work together’. He has been here for fifteen years, originally an asylum seeker, he has worked hard to grow his business. But his business has crashed by 30-40% because his customers are going home.

Johnny, Zana's great friend. Johnny was a client, but now they go out together, and Johnny pops by the salon most days for a tea and a chat. As far as he's concerned, the economic migrants are no different to the natives.

Zana, and his colleague Twana were joined by Ali, who said, ‘Boston used to be the fastest growing town in Lincolnshire, so I came for the work. But the town is dying, all the shops are empty. The factories can’t get staff because no one is coming now, because they are scared. No one wants to come here now. Twenty of my friends have left already - they are going back home or to another country, the Netherlands. It’s bad for the whole town, not just us.

Ali (left) and Twana

Rasa came here fifteen years ago with a bag of clothes and £100 in her pocket. She had left Lithuania to build a new life. She has committed herself to this country, and now has a business employing twenty people and is about to buy her first home. She works as a ‘Ganger’, one of the gang leaders whose work is to supply the farms and factories with migrant workers.

But the landscape has changed. That second wave of Bulgarians and Romanians aren’t like the first wave.

In Rasa’s view ‘The Bulgarians and Romanians have only come here to take advantage of the benefit system that the UK provides’.

When we arrived she continued, ‘We came to work hard and build a new life. We didn’t send our money back home’. And all the English I have met, despite their strong views on immigration, always confirm that those original migrants work hard, cause no problem and contribute to the economy. Strangely they will tell you again and again that they do the work the English are too lazy to do.


Tattoo artist Efka from Lithuania, is also planning to leave for the same reason - his business is suffering, and he doesn’t have citizenship. He said ‘I can earn the same in a week here that I would get in Lithuania in a month. But I think I will go’

And finally I bumped into Darius and Martin, two Polish migrants who have been here since the beginning. They wish to return home too, but Darius has four kids with an english woman.

Martin and Darius, Polish economic migrants who arrived in Boston fifteen years ago.

Darius said:

‘I used to go home to see my parents, but I had to pay for six flights. So now my parents come here. It’s cheaper for me. I can’t leave here because of my children. I wish I could’

The curious fact about Brexit therefore is that Boston has boomed with the influx of migrant workers. There are infrastructure developments everywhere from power stations to new factories. Since Brexit however, the original migrants are leaving and the economy is suffering. So in time the whole of Boston will suffer, the locals and the migrants - those who voted to stay and those who voted to leave.


© Martin Middlebrook | All Rights Reserved

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