Is Brexit regret a thing? Not in east London

It was thought that many 'Leave' voters regretted their decision after the referendum. That is not the case in Dagenham, where 62.4% of votes were cast in favor of leaving and, months later, people still stick to their guns. 

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, Europe
Is Brexit regret a thing? Not in east London - NewsMavens
Brexit. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

politics, economy

Back in June 2016, Britain undertook a historic vote on whether to leave the European Union in a referendum put to the public. The vote to leave won by a tiny margin, with just 51.9% of the vote.

Dagenham, a town in east London and historically in eastern county Essex, was one of few London boroughs to cast a 'Leave' vote, with 62.4% voting to leave.

Nearly 18 months later, my WikiTribune colleagues Jack Barton, Francis Augusto and I went to see how the people of Dagenham feel about Brexitnow. We found them more passionate about leaving the EU than ever.

People on Dagenham's damp streets said they stood by their decision for a range of reasons: fear of immigrants, wanting to show politicians who is boss, a genuine desire to leave the European Union and in many cases, a protest vote they never expected would lead to an actual Brexit.

The simplicity of the referendum – a simple "in" or "out" vote – was criticized, given the tiny majority and controversy of the entire debate.

Working class areas had a strong “out” sentiment, while metropolitan centers like London were strongly in favor of “remain” in the June 2016 referendum.

“Brexit was just like, stick your fingers up to the government — give them a kick,” said Alan Jones, a father who runs a carpeting business on the main shopping street of Dagenham.

Since the vote, UK gross domestic product has fallen nearly 1% and discussions on what "type" of Brexit should occur has dominated Britain's headlines.

It was thought that many 'Leave' voters "regretted" their decision after the referendum, which was overwhelmingly expected by politicians and the media to produce a 'Remain' vote.

“A lot of it was a protest vote," Barry, who runs a motor garage in Dagenham told us. “I’m glad it happened … but I didn’t think for a moment [that it would]," he said.

Details from the story:

  • In Britain's referendum on leaving the European Union, 51.9% of the country voted to 'Leave'.
  • Metropolitan areas like London primarily voted to 'Remain' in the European Union.
  • 62.4% in the London Borough of Dagenham and Barking voted to leave, in a rare vote.
  • However, Dagenham residents feel things haven't changed. And their views on Britain leaving the EU are solidified.
  • People there were more passionate about leaving the EU than ever.
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