Jane Robins, co-writer of the play ‘People Like Us’, shares her personal experiences having voted Brexit in the Remainer heartlands of the publishing and theatre world.
After the referendum, London seemed a strange place to me. I work in the arts – being a novelist – and my friends tend to be fellow writers, publishers, and journalists. I’m in a small minority of Leavers. It’s the same for people working in the public sector, and other parts of middle-class ‘liberal’ London.
The vote produced a feeling of utter gloom and despondency in my social circle, while I felt upbeat and happy about the prospect of democratic renewal. I couldn’t voice my feelings at all – any talk of Brexit was shut down promptly, and if you were in favour of it, many people looked at you with puzzlement in their expressions. On social media, it was worse. There people were openly describing Leave voters as dim, as enablers of racism, as stuck in the past. Often if you tried to debate with them, you’d attract a torrent of abuse. I was shunned by a few more extreme Remainer friends, and I was dismayed to see the majority doubling down on Project Fear rather than embracing a new future. Like many Leavers, I took to staying silent.
“I couldn’t voice my feelings at all, any talk of Brexit was shut down promptly”
Enter Leavers of London (now Leavers of Britain!). When Lucy (Coordinator for Leavers of London) posted on Twitter that she wanted to meet other Brexiters in a pub for a drink and a chat – I thought, what the hell, and went along. I’m so happy that I did. LofL has proved to be an utterly joyful experience. People of all sorts of backgrounds and political persuasions come to LofL drinks, and the mood has been relaxed, friendly, fun and politically engaged. It’s open-spirited and open-minded. It’s a bit like a student bar, but for people of all ages.
There’s something exciting about LofB – because we’re a community that’s been created, with no funds, from the bottom up. Truly grassroots. And we’re growing all the time. I’ve made good friends there, and can’t wait to see us welcome new people across the UK. In troubled times, it’s great to be part of something that is so life-enhancing!
Jane Robins is Co-writer with Julie Burchill of ‘People Like Us’ – a play that looks at social divisions after Brexit.