On a blustery day on the Dover seafront, Martin Mitchell, a worker in one of the southern English city’s many bed and breakfast guesthouses, is walking his dog.
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While the French headland looms over the horizon, Mr Mitchell simmers with resentment that Theresa May, the British prime minister, has announced her government is ready strike a Brexit compromise with the EU.
“She [Mrs May] has tried to please everyone, even the ones who lost the vote,” he said. “People like me, who let me remind you were in the majority, were the last ones she has cared about. It should have been the other way round really”.
Dover is the frontline for UK imports and exports to and from the continent and beyond with some 2.6 million lorries carrying 17 per cent of Britain’s imports across its ramps. The figure has risen in recent years, and pre-Brexit was expected to increase by another 40 per cent by 2030.
Yet despite Dover’s reliance on this frictionless trade, this is a deeply Eurosceptic part of Britain, and the frustration over Mrs May’s negotiations is palpable.
Brian Hindley, 51, used to work at the port. Tall and balding, with a deep baritone voice, he too voted Brexit. He says anything but a full Brexit “would be like surrendering to Brussels”.
“We were fed up with them telling us what we could bring in, and what shape our bananas had to be,” he said. “Do you remember that? Anything that lets them keep doing that is a betrayal, a betrayal of what we demanded.”
School teacher Jessica Hapsal, 23, is one of the minority who didn’t vote to leave the EU, but even she isn’t convinced that the town she grew up in could be turned into the world’s biggest lorry park.
“I don’t follow it closely, but even I know Europe doesn’t want that. It wouldn’t be good for any of us, so I don’t think they will let it happen”.
In 2016, the constituency voted to leave by some 62 per cent, and despite claims that delays in customs checks of just two minutes could see lorries backed up some 17 miles and parked on motorways and in car parks across the south east, people here largely remain determined to see the London-Brussels divorce play out.
Many are as determined as ever to see Britain ditch out of the union regardless of the potential consequences. “Nobody from Dover is talking about these lorry parks, it’s all London fantasy, they don’t understand how it works here. Life will go on, trust me,” said Mr Mitchell. “We’ve been through far worse.”
Lyndsey Summerton, 66, moved to Dover more than 10 years ago and is now retired – she also voted Leave.
A ‘no-deal departure’ is now her preferred option, having been angered by the tactics of the European negotiators.
“Nothing has changed, if anything we want out even more now when you see how Europe has acted,” she tells The National. “The port was there before the EU, it will be there after too, trust me”.
Tim Dixon, the general manager of Motis FSA, a company that provides customs clearances for lorries leaving the port for destinations outside the EU, is more nervous than his sanguine neighbours.
“We hold 300 vehicles on site and process around 600 per day through import and export,” he said, explaining this is a drop in the bucket compared to the daily freight volumes that have reached as high as 10,600.
There is no doubt a sharp increase in the number of vehicles needing customs checks would cause serious issues for a port that does not have the stop and process capacity.
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