In six hours, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. But what has been the emotional toll for those who campaigned against Brexit in Dorset? Luke Donnelly reports.
She has had sleepless nights since 2016. Strained relationships with friends and neighbours, and even a divorce as a result of Brexit.
In this time of celebration for Leave voters across Dorset, Belgian-born Muriel Goudet shares the emotional toll the UK’s decision to leave the European union has had on her life.
A tense atmosphere pervaded my conversation with the co-founder of Dorset for Europe. She spoke reflectively about the difficulties she faced in being a mother to her children, and admitted that although they are proud of her, the campaigning must have an impact on their relationship.
This contributed to sense of sympathy that I couldn’t help but feel for the campaigner. A woman who’s last four years have been absorbed by opposing the inevitable, to now see her worst fears unfold in front of her eyes.
“I find it really hard to trust people who I know voted leave, and even people who voted remain but know want to get on with it,” said Muriel. “These have been some rough times.”
“It has seeped into my personal life, my friendships and I am going through a divorce due to a complete lack of support from my ex-husband.
“I was targeted by a far-right group with a picture of me online sharing my full name, and where I was living in Dorset. I had to change my Facebook name to keep my profile hidden from them.
“I’ve also have had neighbours telling me to go back to my own country, which I thought could have been a joke until I found out they voted leave. It’s not funny really.”
This bleak tone expressed by Muriel directly contrasts the mood conveyed by the Prime Minister this morning.
Boris Johnson hailed today as “the dawn of a new era”, and will address the nation at 10pm tonight, one hour ahead of the UK’s transition away from the EU.
But despite the work of Muriel and Dorset for Europe, most of the county will welcome today as the day when No.10 finally made good on its promise to leave the EU.
Every region within Dorset voted to Leave, with a convincing 58% of residents in Poole and Christchurch supporting the Leave campaign.
Although the majority of the nation supported the leave campaign, it has left many citizens from EU member states fearing the UK is shifting into a more xenophobic society.
Genevieve Talon was born in Deux-Sevres, France and emigrated to the UK over forty years ago. From her impeccable English I could tell she had worked hard to integrate into the society she now calls home, and has raised children and grandchildren in the UK since her move across the English Channel.
Despite living most of her life here, Genevieve is increasingly getting the sense that she is no longer welcome here.
“I have people telling me to go back where I came from,” said Genevieve. “This is ridiculous as I made my life in this country.”
“People are often very patronising, and don’t realise when you have lived in a country for forty years, you should be respected as a member of the community.”
Boris Johnson has declared #BrexitDay as the "dawn of a new era".
One anti-brexit campaigner says: “I find it really hard to trust people who I know voted leave" https://t.co/C5npD1Lwss
But what is YOUR take on this monumental day?
— Buzz News (@buzz_bmth) January 31, 2020
Genevieve then went on to say that she does not feel welcome in Dorset and the UK anymore.
“I thought this was my country, there are three million other EU citizens living in this country and now we don’t know where we belong anymore.
“I have the feeling that I am not accepted. To have the Prime Minister of this country saying: “Who do they think they are, they have no right to call this their home”, does not make me feel welcome.
“I am sad and angry. The country is making this decision with only the smallest of majorities.”
Dorset for Europe is hosting a demonstration at the Bournemouth triangle tonight from 10-11:30pm.
‘Shine a light for our rights’ will bring Dorset remain voters together to signal “nothing will stop us defending the values we hold dear”.
This takes place among similar demonstrations being held across the country, while many ‘Brexit Day’ parties will take place tonight to celebrate the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.