Express.co.uk asked residents in Coventry to reveal whether they approve of Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations efforts so far and the response was far from positive. Some branded the Prime Minister’s approach to the talks with Brussels as “awful” and “dreadful”. Others appeared more sympathetic claiming they “felt sorry” for Theresa May and were still hopeful a solution could be found.
One said: “It’s a bit of a clusterf***, really. Nobody seems to be doing anything.”
And another: “They’re not going fast enough. I think we just ought to get out.”
The prominent pro-Brexit Midlands borough seemed particularly reluctant at the idea of a second referendum on the final decision reached by Theresa May in Brussels.
Asked whether a second vote should be called by the Government, one man said: “No, we’ve had one referendum to leave the European Union but we’ve just got an incompetent Government that can’t do it.”
Another said: “No. The public has done their best, they said what they want. It’s up to the Government now to say ‘here you are’ and do it.”
And a determined pro-Brexit resident went even further in admitting she would just vote to Leave again just as the first time around, arguing a second referendum would be costly for the taxpayers.
She said: “No, no, no. If there was I would exactly the same again anyway, but they’d waste a lot of money doing that.”
However, some of them would entertain the idea if it meant getting a better deal at the end of the negotiations and if it a second vote was called to ensure the result of the first one was carried out.
One man said: “That will depend on what she gets from Europe, doesn’t it? Because she doesn’t know what she’s going to get. We know what she’s going to ask for, whether they give it to her or not is another thing.
“They might offer us something else and if that’s not part of the mandate from the original vote then yes, we need to be asked.”
It comes as last month campaigners from the People’s Vote calling for a second referendum rallied in Coventry to discuss the impact of Brexit on the Midlands eurosceptic town.
In response, Councillor Gary Ridley, leader of Coventry’s Conservative party, said the country had already had a people’s vote at the first Brexit referendum in 2016.
He added: “At the end of the day, Ivoted Remain back in 2016 and if it was 2016 now I would still vote that way.
“But there is a point where we have to recognise that we gave people a fair and free vote and people voted to leave the European Union.
“The turnout was through the roof so when people say it wasn’t a legitimate referendum…that just isn’t true.
“When people talk about the people’s vote, what was that in 2016? It was the largest democratic exercise that we have seen.
“Coventry was above the national average, and around 56 per cent voted to leave.
“We have got to follow through with that referendum. The damage that will be done to democracy if we don’t implement it would be severe.”
Asked whether the transition period – meant to end in 2020 – should be extended as Theresa May proposed in October, the majority of the people interviewed by Express.co.uk expressed their concerns.
One resident said: “I think it’s totally wrong. We need to get out and we need to get out now.”
And another one: “I don’t feel good about that at all because that’s going to cost us a boatload of money.”
But just like the idea of a second referendum, some of the residents claimed extending the transition period could prove useful to get the best deal out of the negotiations with Brussels.
One man said: “I don’t agree with it but you know these things are obviously tougher than we understand so if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.”
In a slight dig at the European Union’s delayed bureaucracy, another said: “Personally, if it gets us what we want then we’ll have to suck it up I’m afraid. Things don’t happen overnight. We know what Europe is like: if you want something done you have to wait.”
The Prime Minister has struggled to finalise a Brexit deal with the Irish border remaining the major sticking point in negotiations.
Britain rejected the European Union’s proposed ‘backstop’ over fears it could create a border down the middle of the Irish Sea.
The UK is reportedly considering to agree to a ‘backstop’ which would effectively keep the whole of the UK in the EU’s customs union, should future negotiations on a trading relationship break down.
But, the British Government is pushing for the right to withdraw from this backstop, to stop it from becoming a permanent relationship.
This week ministers were invited by the Cabinet Office in Whitehall to view a near-complete draft of the proposed EU withdrawal agreement.
The document, which they saw in strict secrecy and were not allowed to take copies of, is believed to contain the “95 percent” of the exit deal Mrs May says has been agreed with Brussels. But it is not believed to have included the proposed Irish border solution.