Britons reacted with jubilation and relief or shock and anger Friday to the result of a historic vote that upends the country’s relationship with Europe. At London’s Billingsgate market, vendors were delighted with the referendum vote to leave the European Union.
“Absolutely wonderful, best news ever,” said Allen Laurence, 65. “We want England — or Great Britain — to come back how it was years ago, and it’s going the way that we want it to go.” Mathew Heart, a 46-year-old vendor, said that while the vote wouldn’t affect him, he was pleased.
“I think it’s just great we’ve got our independence back,” he said. Commuters at the main train station in the well-heeled southwest London borough of Richmond, which voted overwhelmingly to remain, expressed anger and frustration at the vote.
“I’m quite shocked really,” said Martin Laidler. “My 9-year-old daughter asked me to vote to remain, so I was voting for her future.” Olivia Sangster-Bullers, 24, said the result was “absolutely disgusting.”
“My best friend and his partner, one of them is from Spain. How does he feel now?” she said. “I’ve just seen that the pound’s crashed so good luck to all of us, I say, especially those trying to build a future with our children,” she added.
Morning commuters were glued to their phones or — unusually for London — talking to each other about the outcome. Some shook their heads; others embraced. Peter Walker, 50, said he felt the referendum had been an outlet for people who were afraid, but that it likely wouldn’t solve the problems they face.
“I think it’s a short-term solution,” he said on his way to catch a bus to work. Beatrice Rumsey, a 67-year-old health worker originally from northwestern England, said the referendum gave a voice to “ordinary people” who didn’t fall for what she called the “scare tactics” of the “remain” campaign.
“Well, good, if house prices go down,” she said, while eating breakfast on a bench in Twickenham, southwest London, before starting work. Some stressed the historic aspect of the vote. “I think it’s a vindication of 1,000 years of British democracy,” said Jonathan Campbell James, 62. “From Magna Carta all the way through to now we’ve had a slow evolution of democracy and this vote has vindicated the maturity and depth of the democracy in our country.”