Election 2017: Living in Boston - the UK's most anti-EU town

Shops in Boston, Lincolnshire
Image caption Some parts of Boston boast an array of European shops

Boston is Britain's unofficial Brexit capital and is being targeted by UKIP leader Paul Nuttall in the general election. So how do the Europeans who sought a new life in the Fens feel in the run-up to the 8 June poll?

Hana Rafajova: 'Terrible uncertainty'

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hana Rafajova said Brexit had created a "horrible uncertainty" for people from other EU countries

"Most of us feel unwanted here," said Hana Rafajova, a translator who moved to Lincolnshire from the Czech Republic more than a decade ago.

"Many of us have developed depressions and anxiety since the referendum," the 37-year-old mother-of-one said.

"Brexit created a terrible uncertainty for us. Most of us were shocked at first, confused about what to do."

Ms Rafajova said some of her friends had already left and many more were now considering their future.

"If it was just me, I would have gone back to the Czech Republic a long time ago," she said.

But she said she needed to consider her 10-year-old son, who was born in the UK.

She said she would "rather suffer the 'you are not one of us' feeling" than see her son go through it.

Some of those closest to Ms Rafajova, including her partner Paul, voted to leave the EU.

She told Australian current affairs programme Dateline she felt betrayed when she found out.

"My first thought was 'does he realise he is in a relationship with a European woman who will be affected by his vote?'"

For his part, her partner said he did not think about the impact of voting leave, and that there was now no guarantee that people already in the UK could stay.

He said he did so because of what he perceived as increased pressure on local services.

Damian Bemben: 'Grown up together'

Image copyright Damian Bemben

Damian Bemben, 19, is a Polish migrant who came to the town with his family 12 years ago. He is now studying computer science at university in Sheffield.

He said Boston took "a step backwards" after the EU referendum with the "hateful voices emboldened by the Brexit result".

He said it was also "no longer a certainty" that EU nationals currently working in the UK would be allowed to stay.

Mr Bemben said an English Defence League (EDL) march in the town in October unsettled many migrants and stirred up ill feeling.

"It resulted in a lot of hate being spewed and, as an immigrant myself, when I hear EDL members shouting 'get the immigrants out', it does not make me feel safe."

However, he said the majority of young people in Boston did not have a problem with integration as they had all grown up together, and did not judge people on the basis of where they were from originally.

Dimitrina Moskova: 'Hanging together'

Image caption Mrs Moskova said she was surprised by the EU referendum result in the town

Dimitrina Moskova, who runs D and F Bulgarian Food in the town, said she was surprised at the result of the EU referendum, but had not experienced any negativity since.

"I used to work with English people a lot in the factories and I never felt bad feelings," she said.

"We were usually hanging together in the breaks, so I was surprised when the town had the highest vote to leave the European Union."

Mrs Moskova, who started running the shop about two months ago, said: "Most of the people who come in our shop are English and they are happy to see us here.

She said the UKIP leader's intention to stand in the general election had "probably made some migrant workers feel unwelcome" but it would not, in her opinion, change anything.

"Living in Boston has been a good experience for me," she said.

Piotr Przytula: 'Friendly and tolerant'

Image copyright Piotr Przytula

Piotr Przytula moved to Boston 12 years ago from Slupsk in northern Poland with his wife Aga and their son Dawid, who is now 16.

He spent eight years working in a factory before starting his own business selling stationery.

Mr Przytula said that following the Brexit result some people were afraid and had already chosen to leave.

He said he was worried about the impact Britain leaving the European Union would have on the economy, and that migrants would be blamed for "increased austerity" and cuts to public services, which he believed would follow.

"The majority of British people in Boston are friendly and tolerant," said Mr Przytula.

"Many of my friends and colleagues who voted for Brexit say they have nothing against immigrants in general, [but are] overwhelmed by the scale of immigration."

However, he believed the level would naturally fall as the UK would become less attractive to workers from other EU countries.

He said in his experience, due to the weaker pound, only Romanian and Bulgarian workers were now coming to the town.

Boston profile

  • Population 64,600
  • The last census in 2011 showed the population increased by 15.9% between 2001 and 2011 - twice the national rate
  • Boston experienced the largest increases in its population in the age bands representing people in their 20s.
  • Top occupations listed by people in Boston are elementary (19%), process plant and machine operatives (17%), skilled trades (13%) and professional (10%)
  • Conservative Matt Warman won the seat of Boston and Skegness with a majority of more than 4,000 in the last election.

Read more about the Boston & Skegness constituency

The candidates standing in Boston and Skegness are: Mike Gilbert (Blue Revolution), Paul Kenny (Labour), Paul Nuttall (UKIP), Victoria Percival (Green Party). Philip Smith (Liberal Democrats), Matt Warman (Conservative).

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