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Olivia Harris for BuzzFeed News

We Visited The Town Where 75.6% Of Voters Chose To Leave The EU

A higher proportion of people voted for Brexit in Boston, south Lincolnshire, than anywhere else in the UK.

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The turnout to vote in the EU referendum last Thursday was high in Boston, south Lincolnshire: 77% headed to the polls, compared to a national average of 72%.

Boston was also the town with the highest proportion of pro-Brexit voters in the UK: Out of an electorate of 39,363 people, 22,974 (75.6% of voters) voted Leave, while 7,430 voted Remain and 8,959 did not vote. We visited Boston to ask people about Brexit and their views on the future of the country.

Kelly Brandon, 52, market stall worker, voted Leave

Olivia Harris for BuzzFeed News

Market stall holder Kelly Brandon, 52, makes a sale to a Polish customer in Boston, Lincolnshire.

"I know everyone’s panicking and it’s doom and gloom, but I believe the British people are unique and peculiar people and we can rise above this, like we have in the past. I think we will come out stronger. We have every other time, depressions, first world war, second world war. I think we’ll be all right.

"I’m a market stall holder and 90% of my customers are foreigners in Boston. I don’t think they’re going to be sent home, and I think people were wrongly instructed as to how they should vote. If people have voted purely on the fact that they think Boston will empty out and there'll be loads of beds in the hospitals, there'll be spaces in the schools, that’s not going to happen."

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Bernadeta, 18, Lithuanian student and flower factory worker, could not vote

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Bernadeta poses in front of Boston’s most famous landmark, St Botolph’s church, better known as the Boston stump.


"[The referendum result] may have a negative influence on the economy, but on the other hand, if UK becomes more independent, maybe they’ll be able to control the immigrants coming to the UK who get drunk and shout in the street and make it unsafe.

"I came here to learn English, but it’s really, really hard to learn English because in the factories everyone’s talking to you in Russian or in my own language. In the streets all you hear is Russian swearing, Lithuanian swearing, and it’s kind of a pity. … I can learn more English watching films and reading books, but not being here. I’m an immigrant but some of the way the immigrants behave is not tolerant at all – in Lithuania we don’t see that kind of behaviour but here I was like. 'Oh!' I expected a higher level of culture here but I don’t see it here at all."

Colin: "I don’t like the idea of these Polish people living in Poland and claiming benefits [in the UK]. I pay my tax money. Sending all the tax money to Poland or wherever. It shouldn’t be allowed. It sickens you when you see them bragging on telly what they’re doing. That’s why I voted out.

"I hope gradually they’re gonna stop a lot of them from coming in, take the numbers down a bit, and the scumbags that are in the streets walking round like packs of wolves, just drinking all day, [those immigrants who drink] need gathering up, putting on a container ship, and sending back."

T.J.: "I would have preferred voting Leave because most of these European people come here, they try to claim benefits and do nothing.

"I think the African people now will have more opportunities to get jobs and all that, because they consider the European people first."

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"Around Boston, [it has] changed a lot now because people don’t seem friendly no more. The community has changed and we’ve had enough. They take our jobs, they take our shops, our NHS, they take our dentists, they take our doctors, the houses for council, and we’ve had enough."

Selcuk, kebab shop worker, originally from Turkey, voted Leave

Olivia Harris for BuzzFeed News

Selcuk (centre), who has lived in the UK for 15 years, poses for a picture with his colleagues in the kebab shop where he works in Boston.

"Too many people are not working, drinking alcohol. I work hard, everyone’s working hard. These Polish people, not working, just claiming benefits. If they’re living here in this county, they should be able to speak a little bit of English. I’m not joking, they don’t even know the name for salad. They don’t even understand the word for sauce. Honestly, I’m stressed here, honestly."

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"I think a vast number of people voted for the wrong reasons. I think people are afraid of immigration, the volume of people who have come. If you vote Leave you’re regarded as right-wing, almost an extremist, which is total rubbish – the vast majority of people round here are left of centre. Hackney [in London] was an extremely poor area, and Shoreditch, all those areas round there – it’s not now. [But] that sort of thing hasn’t happened round here. You see jobs that were around here, on a farm nearby, for local people, those people are no longer employed, because other people are cheaper.

"Unskilled people could always get jobs round here, but those jobs are no longer here when other people are prepared to work for less than local people. They can afford to if they haven’t got a mortgage – you can’t afford to work for £5 or £6 an hour if you’ve got a mortgage."

"My employer is happy because I’m doing a good job. I don’t think I’ll have to go home but I’m worried about the economy."

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"I didn’t vote, because politicians don’t listen anyway. Too many people are falling out over it so I’m glad I’m neutral. [If I had voted] I would have voted Out, because I think we need to bring manufacturing back."


Rachel: "Boston’s got a very high population, we can’t get in the surgeries, schools, there are just too many people for the town really. We’re just a small market town. We ain’t got room."

Nick: "Simple case of immigration. There’s that many of them here and it doesn’t give anyone else a chance, work-wise. The immigrants who come over seem to get all the jobs all the time. I know myself, because I used to work on the land years ago. As soon as they come over, they’re working for less pay, so you’re out. I worked for a company for years, but as soon as the foreign labour came over, I was gone, and I’d been there for 10 years. They were doing the same work but for half the money and so they chose to keep them.

"You’re trying to squeeze all these people into a small place. The doctors can’t cope with it. The hospitals can’t. Any surgery, housing, schools, it’s all the same. It’s like that bedroom tax – if the foreigners weren’t here that wouldn’t have been invented."

Vitalia, 28, originally from Lithuania, did not vote

Olivia Harris for BuzzFeed News

Vitalia, 28, who has lived in the UK for 9 years, and her daughter Brigita, 7, pick strawberries at a pick-your-own farm in front of Boston’s main hospital.


"I’m scared about the future. Maybe they’ll tell us to go back to Lithuania."


"I just find there are a lot of men around my age who keep saying we can be GREAT Britain again, and I just think that’s nonsense."

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Previously a photographer for Reuters in Malaysia, Olivia Harris is now a freelance photojournalist based in London. Her work has been published around the world by the New York Times, Time, Guardian, Paris Match, Wall St Journal, China Daily, Le Figaro, the Financial Times and others. The Guardian nominated her for Photographer of the year in 2015 for work including covering the Nepal earthquake and the Rohingya migrant crisis.

Contact Olivia Harris at matthew.tucker+OliviaHarris@buzzfeed.com.

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