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Ashford reacts as UK votes to leave the EU in referendum

As the UK wakes to a shock result to leave the EU in yesterday's referendum, Ashford voters have been reacting to the news.

The Leave campaign received 41,472 votes in the district, with Remain polling 28,314.

Turnout was 77.1% with 69,828 votes cast out of an electorate of 90,516. The result was declared at about 3.20am.

The UK has voted to leave the EU
The UK has voted to leave the EU

French-born professional magician Etienne Pradier, who lives in Wye and has performed in front of dignitaries including David Cameron and Prince Charles, said he had mixed feelings about Britain leaving the EU.

“I have lived here for 35-years so I feel more British than European,” he said, “but this is a shock for me."

Mr Pradier described conversations he’d had with a fellow parent at the school gates, who was Dutch but had also been in the UK for several decades.

“She said she’d never felt like a foreigner at the school gates before. Maybe this is the start of something bigger."

Etienne Pradier
Etienne Pradier

“My personal feeling is that this is very bad for everything but we have to respect what the people have voted for.”

The Chairman of the Ashford Twinning Association, which frequently organises visits to its twin towns of Bad Münstereifel in Germany and Fougères in France, says the referendum will not effect the friendly relations they enjoy with their European neighbours.

Gillian Lines said: “Britain voting to leave the European Union is not going to affect us at all. We’re still going to be lasting friends and as an association we will still carry on organising overseas trips every year."

“We have 12 French students and two teachers coming to England in September. They still want to see the Ashford culture and that’s not going to change.”

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jo James
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jo James

Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said:
“The health of the economy must be the number one priority – not the Westminster political post-mortem.

“Firms across the UK want an immediate and unambiguous statement from the Prime Minister on next steps, along with a clear timeline for the UK’s exit from the European Union,” she said.

“Business will also want to see a detailed plan to support the economy during the coming transition period - as confidence, investment, hiring and growth would all be deeply affected by a prolonged period of uncertainty. If ever there were a time to ditch the straight-jacket of fiscal rules for investment in a better business infrastructure, this is it.”

Ashford MP Damian Green, who campaigned for the UK to leave the EU, said the result was "a little bit of a surprise but not a shock".

He continued: "What this has shown is that we are a divided country and we need to heal the wounds and the way to do that is to ensure that we spread the prosperity we are getting from a strong economy.

But Labour's candidate in the last general election, Ashford borough councillor Brendan Chilton, a vocal Leave campaigner, tweeted his delight.

The town's results also attracted the attention of controversial Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins.

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