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This is what people in Dover think of Brexit as Boris Johnson secures new deal

As Boris Johnson agrees a new deal with the European Union, the political conversation is swelling to an all-time high.

Dover is often called the gateway to Europe, so what do its people think about Brexit? Our reporter Oliver Kemp went to find out.

Dover is often considered the gateway to Europe because of the port
Dover is often considered the gateway to Europe because of the port

The Port of Dover's legacy casts an imposing shadow over the town.

Opened in 1606 by King James I, it is the busiest passenger port in the world, only 21 miles from the coast of France.

It also handles more international lorries than all other UK ports combined, with up to 110 miles of freight traffic passing through each day.

Despite what previous Conservative cabinet ministers may have not understood, the port is indeed important and heavily relied upon.

This fact is not lost on motorists in Kent, after analysis by the Department for Transport revealed a no-deal Brexit could lead to 48-hour delays at the Port of Dover, which would put the town at risk of being gridlocked.

Political editor Paul Francis joined the KM Community Podcast to talk about the possible effects of Brexit on Kent's communities

This would lead you to assume that people living in the town would be passionate about the upcoming deadline day on October 31st.

To investigate the general mood, I visited Dover on market day, where I expected to be greeted by a 'bustling' atmosphere as promised on the Dover tourism website.

The grey drizzle lashed the ten stalls, as business owners stood waiting for customers to brave the rain and browse their wares.

I approached the first stall owner on the square, which set the tone for the rest of the morning.

"We're all sick of talking about it..."

"Nope, I'm not talking to you about Brexit," he said.

Being a reporter, I of course pushed a little further to find out why.

"We're all sick of talking about it."

His colleague nodded emphatically in agreement, and shuffled away to tend to a rain-battered 'sale' sign.

Was this the same town where more than 65,000 people turned out to vote in 2016?

People rushed from shop to shop in the poor weather
People rushed from shop to shop in the poor weather

Dover District voted 62% in favour of leaving the European Union, but I spent an hour trudging up and down the high street to a chorus of 'no's the second I mentioned the 'B' word.

Sheltering from the rain for a moment in a phone retailer, I greeted the store assistant.

The second I uttered 'Brexit' she laughed and said, "oh no, I'm not interested."

As I thanked her and walked out of the door, she added "We're the laughing stock of everything at the moment, aren't we?"

The assistant's comment echoed that of former Conservative MP Anne Widdecombe, who on Tuesday at a Brexit Party speech referred to the UK as an 'international laughing stock' for the time it has taken to push a Brexit deal over the line.

Paul Singh has been setting up his market stall in Dover for more than 20 years
Paul Singh has been setting up his market stall in Dover for more than 20 years

Paul Singh, a stall owner on the high street, kindly agreed to talk with me.

Although he happily told me he voted to remain, he said understands why people might be tired of talking about leaving the EU.

He said: "It's the uncertainty isn't it? People are holding onto this last month to see what happens."

Mr Singh has been coming to Dover with his business for more than 20 years, and is concerned about losing his customers post-Brexit.

He added: "99% of my customers are Europeans - holiday-makers, people coming from the port. That's why I still come and trade down here, otherwise I'd have been long gone."

The market used to be much busier, according to some stall owners
The market used to be much busier, according to some stall owners

Mr Singh was one of more than 24,000 people in the district to vote to remain in the 2016 referendum.

After another hour of wandering along the high street trying to convince more people to talk to me, I stumbled upon Farshad Muradi, manager of Arran's Barber Shop.

As we started chatting, he couldn't have been more surprised at people's lack of interest in talking about leaving the European Union.

He said: "I haven't had a person for four months who hasn't talked about Brexit."

He also said his customers mostly now want to remain, even those who voted to leave in 2016.

Farshad Muradi said all his customers want to talk about is Brexit
Farshad Muradi said all his customers want to talk about is Brexit

"I believe if another referendum happened 85% would vote to remain."

Maybe next time I should masquerade as a barber.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here

Read more: All the latest news from Dover


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