Blog: Buxton, the town split by Brexit, now says the UK has ‘shot itself in the foot’ by leaving the EU – Derbyshire Live

Residents of the area of Derbyshire that voted to leave by the county’s slimmest margin during the referendum on European Union membership in 2016 have expressed their continued frustration at the country’s decision to leave. Some say the momentous move has caused them difficulties personally and left the UK worse off both at home and on the international stage.

High Peak in the Peak District voted to leave, but by a very narrow margin (50.5% for leave). Derbyshire Live spoke to people on a chilly winter’s day in Buxton more than six years on from the vote on Friday (January 20), including some who voted for Brexit as well as remain.

Hannah Martin, 42, who now lives in Buxton after originally coming from East Yorkshire, lived until recently in France with her partner who she met whilst gaming online. She described how she has now returned to the UK, leaving her partner and children behind, because of the extra red tape she faced on the continent.

Read more: Voters in Derbyshire Brexit heartland say they feel ‘lied to’ and things have got worse since crucial vote

She said: “It was a pain for me, my children and my partner. The paperwork needed for travel and for this, that and the other. It became more of a nightmare living there, hence I’ve returned. I was away over there for the vote but I would have voted remain without a doubt.”

Others have wider historical themes on their minds. Andrew Regan, 61, a former foreman now living in Buxton, having been born in Manchester, says Brexit has disrupted the balance of power in Europe. He said: “I didn’t want to leave, I voted remain. Basically we’ve got to learn from history.”

Mr Regan, whose older brother John, a printer, lives in Germany, then recounted how Britain in the past has played a role in major conflicts on the continent, helping different allies out from the Battle of Blenheim, the Napoleonic Wars, all the way up until the Second World War and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He added: “Each time we’ve remained an island off the coast but we’ve been involved to stop another country dominating.

Andrew Regan, whose older brother lives in Germany, said Britain’s exit from the EU has disrupted the balance of power on the continent
(Image: Adam Toms/Derby Telegraph)

“To me, one country dominates Europe: Germany. It’s the workshop of Europe, the powerhouse, and it’s getting bigger and more powerful. When the Greeks had their crisis, the person telling them what to do was the German finance minister. In the EU our position was maintaining that balance of power and never letting one get too big. We were always the odd b****** arguing with everyone else.”

He added: “It’s also affected our economy, it’s disastrous. We’ve lost a lot of business.”

But retired teaching assistant Pauline Lewis, 72, does not regret voting to leave despite saying there have been some downsides to life outside of the bloc. She said: “I was a leaver, my husband was also leave. The main thing that convinced me is just before the referendum I saw in the paper the amount of money sent by us to the EU that was taken out by Greece as we supported their economy.

Full EU referendum results for Derbyshire:

District

Leave/Remain vote

Bolsover

70.8% to 29.2%

North East Derbyshire

62.8% to 37.2%

Erewash

61.2% to 38.8%

South Derbyshire

60.4% to 39.6%

Amber Valley

60.3% to 39.7%

Chesterfield

60% to 40%

Derby

57.2% to 42.8%

Derbyshire Dales

51.6% to 48.4%

High Peak

50.5% to 49.5%

“The other one was there were about 300 votes in previous years that had an effect on Britain, but we lost every single one. That swayed me. However, now especially with the NHS, we have lost a lot of migrant workers who did a lot of jobs we don’t want to do, like picking food, working in hotels, the lower paid jobs. In some ways we’ve shot ourselves in the foot.”

Pauline added she felt like leavers were the exception in the town, and the vote produced some friction with friends with Polish roots. She said: “We were in the minority at the time, but I still think we did the right thing. It actually got quite heated with friends, and we decided we won’t talk about it anymore. Now I bury my head in the sand, the news is so horrible, there’s nothing nice.”

Also walking through the spa town’s centre were younger college students Alfie Bradshaw, 16, and Poppy Blackley, 17. The referendum passed them by, and they remain apathetic to the state of Anglo-EU relations.

Alfie said: “I don’t really have any views personally. We’ll probably learn more as we get older.” Poppy added: “I don’t know anything about it”.

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