- Title: Can Britain's election heal Brexit divisions?
- Date: 31st May 2017
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MARK HAZELWOOD, REMAIN SUPPORTER AND MALE GROOMING STALL OWNER, POLISHING ITEMS ON HIS STALL
- Embargoed: 14th June 2017 18:19
- Keywords: Brexit EU referendum election Sunderland Brighton divided Britain
- Location: SUNDERLAND AND BRIGHTON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: SUNDERLAND AND BRIGHTON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA0026J7A98N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PROFANITY IN SHOT 22
Last year's 48-52 percent Brexit referendum result left the country bitterly divided but two English coastal cities at opposite ends of the country and with polar opposite views on EU membership do agree on one thing - that the upcoming June 8 election will do nothing to heal those wounds.
Down-at-heel Sunderland in the northeast and affluent liberal Brighton on the south coast could hardly be more different, but they do share a grumble that the government has let them down and is not listening to their concerns post the referendum.
Sunderland gave the Leave camp its first big unexpected win of the night on June 23 last year.
Its largely older and lower income voters backed getting out of the EU by 61.3 percent.
The once rich industrial mining and ship building city is now struggling following pit closures and lost trade over two decades ago.
Its residents feel abandoned by Westminster.
"They feel very remote from London where the big decisions are made and they look at someone like Theresa May and think: you have not got a clue what we're going through up here," said Ann Stephenson, a Remain voter.
The vote for Brexit meant a vote for change and a chance to 'stick it' to the politicians.
But almost a year on, with Brexit negotiations yet to begin, voters are frustrated and apathetic.
Prime Minister Theresa May called the election arguing she needed a bigger majority to strengthen her hand in negotiations with Brussels.
But locals do not believe another election will bring them any positive change.
"They're just fed up. We need a change. The northeast, not just Sunderland, the northeast needs a change," said Brexit-supporting Conservative voter John Snaith, landlord of the Colliery Tavern - once the haunt of miners when work was plentiful and the mines were going strong.
Fellow 'Leavers' and pub patrons were angry that the snap election has emboldened Remain politicians to campaign on a pro-EU platform, some even calling for a second referendum.
"The people have voted, the people have had their say and they've got to respect it - and just move forward," James Perrozzi said.
Many are disheartened by the slow progress made in the divorce talks with Brussels.
"The election and the aftermath of the election will prove whether Sunderland was right or not," Snaith said, wondering if he made the right choice.
Some 440 miles down south in Brighton, sunny blue skies did not match the bleak mood its residents feel about the upcoming election.
Sixty nine percent voted to stay in the EU. Anti-Conservative party stickers are plentiful around town.
"You know, just as this country was divided around Brexit it feels to me like this country is very divided between people who believe that it is absolutely fine to allow people to live in poverty...and other people who think that is absolutely all right, so I think we are a highly divided society," said Sophie Gibson.
In the days after the shock referendum result, the gay-friendly cosmopolitan city even started a petition saying Britain wanted to leave the U.K.
One stall owner on the bustling North Laine said he feels the Remainers views are not taken into account at all - but neither are the Leavers.
"I am not sure anyone's voice is being heard, they don't seem to have any kind of plan, do they?," asked Mark Hazelwood.
No one believes the upcoming election will bring any change in politics, with some expressing dismay at May's bullish attitude to Brussels.
The election provides much fodder for anti-capitalist buskers "Fat Bollard."
"I think I'm being lied to. Why suddenly call a snap election when you said you wouldn't call a snap election. Maybe there is something going on with the millionaires and billionaires that we don't know about as normal people," said band member Patrick as the band's dog howled along, if not with approval for politics, at least for the music.
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