Britons in Atlanta cheer, jeer Brexit vote

By Jennifer Brett and Chris Bowling

“Keep calm and drink tea,” reads a sign at The Corner Shop in Marietta, which specializes in British delectables like lemon curd and Cadbury chocolates.

Photo: Jennifer Brett

Photo: Jennifer Brett

It’s fine advice, said shopkeeper Yvonne Blackman the day after her countrymen voted to split with the E.U.

“Tea mends everything,” said Blackman, who has lived in the United States for eight years and was pleased at the news from back home.

“I think it’s a good thing,” she said. “The fear people have is the fear of the unknown.”

She predicts Scotland, which voted down an independence referendum in 2014, will revisit the matter and perhaps vote differently next time, but thinks the prevailing Brexit “leave” vote will ultimately prove beneficial for Britain.

“Its growth will get better,” she said.

MORE: 5 things to know about Brexit

She’s keeping calm. Photo: Jennifer Brett

It appears many folks across the globe could use a spot of tea. A quick photo search using the term “Brexit” summoned these dolorous images:

Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the campaign to keep the United Kingdom in the EU, says he’ll step down.

“I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers the country to its next destination,” he said Friday in a speech outside his Downing Street office. “We should aim to have a new prime minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October.”

Who knows what Stuart Jolly’s bottom line will look like by then? At the moment, it’s not pretty.

“I’ve just seen my stocks devalued 20 percent overnight and the pound plummet to an all-time low against the U.S. dollar,” he said. “It wiped 35 percent off any money I want to bring to the United States.”

A U.S. resident since 2014, he lives in Suwanee and works in retail Duluth. Back home, moving freely throughout Europe was key to his business success.

“I had a global role looking after client in most E.U. countries and traveled extensively,” he said. “I couldn’t have done my job with out the freedom to travel and supply goods and services without barriers to trade.”

He said the “leave” vote stems from concerns over surging immigration.

“The government should have stemmed migration, especially refugees receiving housing and benefits,” said Jolly, who was still surprised by the vote. “I thought we would remain. I was hoping it would be close and therefore a wakeup call for the Government. Looks like it will truly shake things up now.”

With voter turnout around 72 percent, 52 percent of Britons voted against staying in the EU. However, a majority of voters in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England’s cities voted against leaving the 28-member union.

Financial markets took a dive after news of Britain’s exit from the EU broke. At its lowest point, the British pound fell by 15 cents to $1.33 against the dollar – its lowest level since 1985, according to The Guardian.

“This is the biggest one-day plunge ever,” the newspaper reported. “It even dwarfs the sterling crash on Black Wednesday in 1992, when Britain left the ERM (European Exchange Rate Mechanism).”

Shane Stephens, Ireland’s Consul General in Atlanta, said Ireland doesn’t intend on letting its fluid relationship with the UK falter.

“Generally speaking our relations are the best that they’ve ever been,” Stephens said. “That’s not going to change.”

While Ireland has been a vocal opponent of the UK leaving the EU—Stephens himself gave a speech about it alongside Atlanta’s British Counsel a few weeks ago—he said the decision to leave was the UK’s to make. Ireland has to respect that, he said.

Still, with all these changes Stephens said the reasons Ireland and the UK have worked well in the past are going to continue to bind them together.

“They’re our closest neighbors and closest of our friends and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon,” Stephens said. “It’s simple on that front.”

And certainly many are pleased with the result. The below image shows “Leave” supporters reveling at Millbank Tower in London.

GettyImages-542655652

Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

 

For Bethany Miller, the vote feels like a longing for the past.

“I was born in Scotland so I had very similar feelings when there was the independence vote in 2014,” said Miller, who now lives in LaGrange and works for a healthcare company. “I think a lot of folks long for post-WWII Britain, but the fact is, it’s not just the UK that has changed, it’s the whole world. Leaving the E.U. isn’t going to take things back to 1960s or ’70s Britain.”

She keeping calm, though.

“Is it the worst thing in the world? Probably not,” she said. “But I think some citizens made the decision to leave based on the past, not the future.”

 

 

Reader Comments 0

1 comments
SJMote
SJMote

The wider issue is important to recognise here. Why would you use a referendum to decide an incredibly complex decision? The issues at stake are diverse and complicated - many people look at the small part that they are concerned about and overlook all the other parts that they do not understand. I do not think that our system of government was meant to operate in this fashion.