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UK ’embarrassed’, ‘powerless’ and ‘frustrated’ as Brexit uncertainty continues | UK News



I’m about to catch a flight to begin a journey across Britain. I’m trying figure out how people feel about the B-word.


It’s not an easy subject to ask people about. And I’ve spent four years talking to people about Brexit.

It provokes different reactions in different people. Some laugh out loud and shrug it off, others are deeply frustrated.

Some get angry and shout and swear. But they all have one thing in common: They appear powerless when it comes to doing anything about Brexit.

And it’s that apparent lack of control that I’m interesting in hearing about.

My flight takes me north over the border to Aberdeen in the north east of Scotland.

Gift shop owner Zoe James said she was 'very frustrated, really frustrated by everything'
Aberdeen gift shop owner Zoe James said she was ‘very frustrated, really frustrated by everything’

It’s often called the Granite City because many of the city’s most well-known buildings and houses were hewn from rock retrieved from large quarries dotted around the area.

It can be grey and dull on a cloudy day, yet sparkle and glitter when when the sun comes out.

These days it’s known as the oil and gas capital of Britain because of its central role in the industry.

Like the rest of Scotland, Aberdeen voted to remain in the EU.

Zoe James thinks 'we’ve kind of lost our way a bit' and 'should be more self-sufficient'
Zoe James thinks ‘we’ve kind of lost our way a bit’ and ‘should be more self-sufficient’

Zoe James is the owner of Teasel and Tweed, a gift shop in Aberdeen that sells exclusively Scottish made products.

She is from England originally but moved to Scotland as a child. She voted to leave.

“I think that we’ve kind of lost our way a bit, and I think we should be more self sufficient and we should depend on ourselves to produce for each other.

Theresa May arrives early to meet Merkel in Berlin

Where’s Angela? No one greets May in Berlin

“I’m very frustrated, really frustrated by everything.

“I have a huge amount of sympathy for Theresa May, I think – I wouldn’t necessarily have voted for her – but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s taken on an impossible task and she will never be thanked for it.

“I would say ‘Theresa, stick to your guns, you’re getting it from all every single angle but sometimes you just have to decide what it is that you set out to do in the first place and remember that when everybody’s shouting at you’.”

Since the drop in the global price of oil, Aberdeen has seen a slump in the local economy which is only now showing signs of recovery.

Small business owners like Craig Willox, owner of Books and Beans, are worried that Brexit may be a setback for Aberdeen.

“I think when the votes came through initially and we’d gone for Brexit, I think there was a lot of surprise throughout the world that we had done that.

Small business owner Craig Willox has been left 'embarrassed' by Brexit and worries it may harm Aberdeen
Small business owner Craig Willox has been left ’embarrassed’ by Brexit and worries it may harm Aberdeen

“I felt a certain amount of embarrassment that we were doing this and the whole process since then if anything has made me as a British person, and as a Scottish person a bit embarrassed.

“I wish in my heart for hearts that we weren’t doing it, but I guess people have voted for it, so we’ve not got much choice in the matter.”

I catch a train from Aberdeen to Newcastle. A journey of 250 miles (402km) taking me from one side of the Brexit debate to the other.

Theresa May

‘We must deliver Brexit’

The north east of England largely voted to leave the EU. And any parts of the regional economy are now assessing what the impact of that decision could be.

I’m aboard a pilot vessel at the Port of Blyth, a small port with big ambitions, whose success is fuelled by the growing renewable energy sector.

The people of Blyth voted to leave but Martin Lawlor, the chief executive of the port, says they’re already witnessing the effects.

“We have seen the uncertainty around Brexit has perhaps put a pause on a couple of investments, not our own – we invested more last year than the previous two or three, but with one or two potential inward investors to the port.

“It’s not just about whether we have tariffs or not, it’s just knowing what that final conclusion is and is it going to be delayed by one month, two months, three months, two years who knows?”

I leave Newcastle with a feeling that while many people still want to leave the EU, business and industry are more cautious.

Martin Lawlor (L), chief executive of the port of Blythe, said investment may have been hit by the uncertainty
Martin Lawlor (L), chief executive of the port of Blyth, said investment may have been hit by the uncertainty

Uncertainty piled on uncertainty is proving a toxic mix.

The flight from Newcastle to Exeter takes just over an hour.

Having started this journey in a town that voted to Remain, I wanted to visit one that opted to Leave.

The seagulls circle over the marine in Torquay.

This is the English Riviera, where palm trees rustle in a gentle breeze and elderly ladies sit outside eating ice cream. In search of a morning coffee, I meet Jacqui Hopper at Romero’s Coffee on the harbour.

“I think it’s disgraceful and I think what will happen is come the next general election, I think their votes are going to be majorly down – I think it’s put a lot of people off even voting.

'I've had enough of it,  I switch off the radio and all the documentaries," said Torquay coffee shop owner Jacqui Hopper
‘I’ve had enough of it, I switch off the radio and all the documentaries,” said Torquay coffee shop owner Jacqui Hopper

“I’ve had enough of it, I switch off, I switch off the radio and all the documentaries.”

Taxi driver Anne Daulby, who used to be a secondary school teacher, has lived in Torquay since she was 11.

I ask her to sum up Brexit in one word.

Torquay taxi driver Anne Daulby's one word assessment of Brexit? 'Disappointing'
Torquay taxi driver Anne Daulby’s one word assessment of Brexit? ‘Disappointing’

“Am I only allowed one? Disappointing,” she replies.

“Nothing’s happened, it’s been three years and nothing’s happened. I just feel like it’s all internal politics, nothing to do with what the people want.

“I think…I was for leave originally but if there was another vote now I would definitely vote to stay, mainly because I realise the trouble and the hassle that it is to leave.”

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