'Christmas present'? Britons in two minds about Brexit deal

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves after holding a remote press conference to update the nation on the post-Brexit trade agreement, inside 10 Downing Street in central London on December 24, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
  • Agence France-Presse
  • December 25, 2020 4:45 AM

Boston, United Kingdom | After months of fraught negotiations between the European Union and the UK, Britons welcomed Thursday's "Christmas present" Brexit deal with relief and some scepticism.

David Ashby, a 62-year-old from the town of Boston on the east coast of England, called it "a nice Christmas present for the country", saying it was good "just to get it all finished and tied up and done with".

"I think it's dragged on for too long now," he added.

Andy Finch, who also lives in the Lincolnshire market town which voted by a higher margin than anywhere else in the UK to leave the EU, sounded a pessimistic note. 

"I don't think it was a good idea in the first place. I still don't think it's a good idea. But that's where we are. And, well, we'll just have to see," Finch said.

Paul Skinner, leader of Boston Borough Council, also questioned the thinking behind leaving the European Union.

"At the end of the day, what we do need to be doing is working with our partners, whether it's the council next door, or the countries next door, it works better if we work together. So that's the way I see it," he said.

In London the news of the deal was also met with relief.

"It would've been a disaster if there would've been no deal, so very pleased that there is," Shane O'Neill said.

- Move on -

O'Neill added he would have preferred for Britain to remain in the European Union but that ultimately "now the debate is over and we need to move on".

Student Harry Vincent said it was a "relief" to have a deal but questioned whether it would have been better to remain in the EU. 

He said the compromises that had been necessary to strike a deal "sort of made me wonder whether it was worth it to begin with it all".

Hugh Rowlands also said the Brexit deal was like a "big Christmas present". 

The student added that was especially the case after "Christmas was cancelled" following the reintroduction of coronavirus restrictions across much of the country to curb the spread of the disease.

In the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, Sharmila Hutchinson, a bank employee, said she hadn't supported Brexit and was "gutted to not be part of Europe anymore".

"It does make me nervous to think how I'm going to visit the European cities and friends," the 35-year-old said.

Henry Gray, a charity worker, said Brexit had brought him to think Scotland should become an independent country.

"I think we could be led better from Scotland. It would be nice to feel we would be part of the EU still," he said.

Lewis Summers, a 25-year-old property developer, was pleased the whole thing was over.

"I'm happy that it's eventually over the line," he said. "There's been a bit of uncertainty but hopefully we can just move on and get things done now."

© Agence France-Presse

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