Brexit city: Swansea still split over leaving EU

Image of Swansea Bay campus

It is hard to miss the giant blue signs emblazoned with the EU flag outside the new Swansea University campus.

But at the city's indoor market and on the high street, it is equally clear from talking to people that this is a city still divided over Brexit.

At the referendum, Swansea's voters delivered the Welsh verdict which came closest to the UK-wide picture.

About 51.5% of voters in Swansea chose to leave the EU, while 48.5% supported remain.

But, with the two-year legal process to quit the EU now under way, how do people feel now?

"I'm not actually sure what will happen, but I'm hoping there will be better quality of living for those people who are born and bred in Wales," says leave voter Heather Derrick, 43.

"We've got so much to offer and so much to give to our own country.

What I'd like to see is more of the produce that our country is making going to our own people than going abroad to other countries."

Remain voter, Matt White, sees things differently. He believes while people in the city have been supportive of diversity, there has been an increase in racism since the vote.

"Since the vote I feel that people who have extreme views feel that they can air them in public a lot more and they are going unchallenged," he said.

"As a proud Welsh person I feel very disappointed with the Welsh public on how they voted, considering the amount of funding and help they were receiving from the EU."

"It seemed like a very retrograde step and I'm not really sure why people voted for it. I am angry, I'm not hopeful and I'm worried about the EU nationals living here."

Close to where we are speaking stands the new bus station, which was built with more than £5m of EU cash.

About 3,790 new jobs have been created in Swansea through projects supported by EU funding between 2007-2013, according to Welsh Government statistics.

While some in the city are concerned about what will happen when that cash is no longer available, others believe people will ultimately be better off.

Leave voter Tim Jones, 50, owns a sweet shop in Swansea Market, he said things had been much quieter in the city centre since the EU referendum in June.

"I initially voted to leave, but Europe are not going to let us go easily," he said.

"They are going to make it hard for us and make an example of us.

"But, on a more positive note, if the pound is weak we can export products more."

David Evanson, 61, voted remain. He is disappointed with the outcome and thinks Wales will be worse off.

"Leaving the EU will not help people round here," he said.

"It will do more stuff for England than for us. You look around Swansea, if we were still in the EU it would help us with money for projects.

"I think probably the Boulevard Project [a project to improve links between the centre of Swansea and its waterfront] won't happen now.

"I'm definitely worried about the future."

Image caption Della Thomas wants Britain to leave the EU sooner rather than later

Della Thomas, of Marr Harris cheese stall, said there had been a lot of scaremongering about rising prices after Brexit but she thinks people will be better off.

"We want to leave as soon as possible to get on with our lives," she said.

"I think it is great for the country to regain our independence and stand up to other countries."

"Over the years it definitely will mean more people will appreciate what we have got in our own country and see what's on offer."

She said leaving the EU would mean people would eat seasonal produce and not "strawberries in winter".

Fifth generation family butcher Stuart Colley, 38, who did not vote in the referendum, wants some clarity over what will happen next.

"Politicians are trying to say it's going to benefit us because the money we put into it, but they are not saying how much we are going to be better off by when we come out, and what it will be spent on," said the owner of Abrahams and Family butchers.

"It is all very confusing, I think it is going to benefit the politicians and not the people.

"I just want it to be fair."

Tanya Swistun, of Penclawdd Cockles and Laverbread stall, said: "I still want to leave, I don't know anything about it.

"We won't know what it means until we are not in it."

Her mum, a cockle picker, voted to leave via postal vote ahead of 23 June, but died before the outcome of the vote was known.

"She sent her vote off by post but did not live long enough to see the result - she would have been pleased."

More on this story