The majority in Britain regrets having voted to leave the EU. But exactly one English city continues to be undeterred.
No, admits Anton Dani and puffs out his cheeks, that’s not how he imagined Brexit. “The reality is probably worse than we expected at the time,” says the 57-year-old, gazing out over Boston’s marketplace from his café. It sounds devastating. But that’s deceptive. The former mayor of the small town in eastern England still thinks Brexit is a good idea. It is only being implemented completely incorrectly by the government in London. Many people in Boston feel like Dani, who is now talking more and more into a rage.
Welcome to “Brexit City”: It was seven years ago on Friday that Great Britain voted for Brexit. The result was close. Not in Boston: Here, around 76 percent voted yes, more than in any other city. And while polls have recently seen approval drop to a low, Boston is underpinning its status as a Brexit stronghold. When the “Unherd” portal confronted people in the country a few months ago with the statement “It was wrong for Great Britain to leave the EU”, there was exactly one constituency in which a majority said no: Boston.
The landscape near the North Sea coast is picturesque, because of the many fields, the region is considered the granary of England. Tractors keep slowing traffic down. Visible for miles is the famous “Boston Stump,” as locals affectionately call their distinctive steeple that towers high above the market town’s lanes. In the church shop, Wendy and Jeanne serve the tourists. Are you still for Brexit? But of course, the two older ladies emphasize friendly. The reason: the many foreigners who have moved to Boston in recent years. “I no longer dare to go into town alone in the evenings,” they say.
Anton Dani: The former mayor of Boston is still pro-Brexit – and today owns the “Café de Paris” in Boston. (Source: Benedict von Imhoff/dpa)
As you think many. “Reality gives them more reasons, gives them more evidence that they really need Brexit,” says ex-mayor Dani. The advocates of leaving the EU had promised stricter immigration rules – they are still waiting for them in Boston. The city sees itself as cosmopolitan. Many of the pilgrims who emigrated to America on the “Mayflower” in 1620 came from here. And the city on the US east coast is called Boston because it was co-founded by people from here.
But the people of Lincolnshire are slowly having enough. Once a thriving port city, there has hardly been a negative statistic in recent years that Boston has not cited. It is the fattest city in the country, the one with the worst integration and the lowest wages – and statistically the one with the most murders.
Many people point to the high influx of migrants. It is mainly people from poorer EU countries who spend the day in groups on the market square, it is said in the pubs. Lured by the once-thriving agricultural economy, some would work for low wages and live in run-down houses, often with too many people in one room. Between 2011 and 2021, the number of newcomers increased tenfold. In the evenings, they would drink alcohol on the square in front of his café, despite the ban, says Dani, a member of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Tory party.
Romanian supermarket in Boston: Many people from Eastern Europe have settled in the city. (Source: Benedict von Imhoff/dpa)
But the restaurateur insists he bears no grudges. Rather, he feels betrayed by London. The government finds no means against the high number of migrants. In fact, experts point out that since Brexit, for example, there have been no readmission agreements with EU countries for irregular arrivals.