Uncertainty in Preston after Brexit vote

New Hall Lane, Preston
New Hall Lane, Preston
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As the dust settles on the decision to leave the EU, SARAH CARTER finds out the impact on Preston communities.

It is one of Lancashire’s most diverse communities, with families of different backgrounds, nationalities and beliefs living side by side.

And, following the UK’s shock decision to leave the European Union, opinions in the New Hall Lane area of Preston couldn’t be more divided.

The neighbourhood, along with much of Preston, is made up of families from across the world, including Europeans fearful for their future.

Agnieszka Drgun moved to Preston from Poland in 2012, and works in a deli in New Hall Lane.

Following last week’s decision she, along with customers to the shop, was left uncertain about what the future holds.

“Everyone is saying the same thing, we don’t know what to do right now,” says Agnieszka, 28.

“A lot of English people don’t accept Polish people. We feel like English people look for us and talk badly about us.

“We work very hard in a factory. The English people don’t go there, but they still say we steal their jobs.

“They don’t say it about Asian people, just about Polish people. Now we feel even more targeted.”

Agnieszka says she came to the UK for a “better life”, but says: “Now it’s not.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to has said ‘What do we do, do we need to go back to our country?’

“I think I’ll go back to Poland. Maybe this is the time to go home and make the Polish country improve.”

One shop customer, Patrycja, also from Poland, says: “A lot of people will probably be scared, but I hope everything will be fine.

“I’ve been here for 11 years, I’ve bought a house here, and I don’t know what’s happening now.

“I don’t know what to think.

“I’m married, I’ve got two children, my son was born here and I don’t know what will happen.

“My children go to school here, I’m frightened for the future.

“I don’t know how to explain it, everything is weird.”

Aso Mohammed, 35, was born in Iraq but now has a British passport.

He describes the vote to leave the EU as a “bad decision” and says: “I know many Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian people here who have been here for three or four years and they might have to go back.

“I’m married, my wife is in Iraq, and I was hoping she could come here. My children can come, but my wife can’t.”

But other workers, families and business owners in the same street don’t agree the Brexit was a bad decision.

Abdullah Master runs the Laundry Basket in New Hall Lane and voted to leave the EU.

The 38-year-old was born and brought up in Preston, and his parents were born in India before moving to the UK 40 years ago.

He says: “I don’t think it will have any impact here - if they are here I don’t think it would affect them because they are already here, they are not going to be sent back, are they?”

But he says he thinks the country should now “close the borders”.

He says: “You’ve got to look after your own people first - those who were born here, those who live here already.

“My parents were born in India and they came here 40 years ago.

“At that time they needed workers, they used to give grants to come from abroad to come to work here in the mills.

“Now it’s too full. Look at the job situation - it’s all chock-a-block - there are so many people unemployed at the moment, it’s hard to find a job.”

Another shop worker, Fahad Ahmed, 30, who was born in Blackburn and now lives in Preston, also voted to leave the EU.

Fahad, whose family is Pakistani, says he chose to vote that way because of television campaigns and says: “I think they were giving a lot of money away, they were saying.

“I was surprised at the result, but I was pleased.”

Janet Cleminson, who runs the New Hall Lane Cafe, says she decided not to vote in the referendum.

She says: “I was split. I listened to both sides of it and I’m quite stuck in the middle.

“I’m nervous about what will happen now, I don’t think people will know what’s coming.

“It doesn’t just affect us, it affects English living abroad, and there will be a lot of families around here that will be affected.”
UCLan student Schmyle Ellahi, 19, who works part time in a shop, voted for the UK to remain in the EU.

Schmyle, whose father was born in Pakistan, says: “They are saying the people are taking our jobs, but they’re not, the jobs are out there and people don’t bother to go and get them, and we are the ones calling those people to come to fill those jobs. A lot of people from Britain are leaving to go into Europe to work.
“For me, it is a bit of a mixed thing. It’s not good, because there are a lot of things we could be missing out on.

“What happens to the people from the EU here to work, are they going to send them back?”

Meanwhile, Lancashire people living abroad have shared their views on the decision to leave the EU. Daley Brennan, 27, runs wine shop A l’Ombre d’un Bouchon in south Paris and is originally from Lancashire. He said: “People will be saying ‘the English are idiots.’ I have benefited from the rules around freedom of movement of people across Europe and I voted Remain because I want the next generation to have the same opportunities I had.”