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Mood on the street reflects Brexit concerns in E&S survey

By Mark Andrews | Politics | Published:

Express & Star readers gave Britain's political leaders a firm thumbs down in our State of the Nation poll – and it seems the mood on the street firmly reflects this.

Craig Cheatham of Bridgnorth Cobbler

Speaking to people in Bridgnorth town centre, opinions were divided on whether Boris Johnson would be a good leader of the country – and downright negative when it came to Mr Corbyn.

And people were generally sceptical about whether any of our main leaders had what it takes to bring the country back together.

Key survey results:

  • Just two per cent of those surveyed believe our politicians are doing a good job
  • Eighty eight per cent said they have lost confidence in our political leaders
  • Readers are split on how they feel about No Deal and about a second referendum
  • Only six per cent believe knife crime in the region is under control
  • A majority of readers said they support the legalisation of cannabis

Our readers' poll found that just two per cent of readers thought our politicians were doing a good job.

The poll found that 32 per cent of readers were happy with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, compared to 50 per cent who were unhappy.

The results are in from our State of the Nation survey

But if support for Mr Johnson was lukewarm, the perception of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was unequivocally negative. Just 12 per cent said they were happy with his performance as Labour leader, while 80 per cent said they were unhappy.

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And these opinions were reflected as we chatted to shopkeepers, shoppers and visitors to Bridgnorth's High Town.

At Bridgnorth Cobbler in High Street, owner Craig Cheatham sums up the state of the nation in one word: "Diabolical".

The 58-year-old says while the leaders of the main political parties agonise over Brexit, town centres including Bridgnorth are going to rack and ruin.

"Internet shopping, rates and parking charges are killing the town, and something needs to be done," he says.

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"I would like to see the only man capable of leading the country, Nigel Farage, in power."

Mr Cheatham says he does not have much confidence in the leaders of either of Britain's two main political parties.

"Boris Johnson? He's all right, but he's not in touch with the man in the street. The thing is with Nigel Farage, he's not a politician, he's a businessman, and he understands where we're coming from. The high street is dying on its feet."

He is even less impressed with Mr Corbyn, who he describes as 'a raving idiot'.

"The important thing now is that we leave on October 31, deal or no deal, and preferably with no deal," he says, dismissing the leaked Operation Yellowhammer report over the weekend as scaremongering.

Enjoying the sunshine on the bench outside the town hall is retired firefighter Tim Entwistle.

Retired firefighter Tim Entwistle

The 52-year-old, who lives in Bridgnorth but is originally from Northern Ireland, is particularly concerned about the impact a no-deal Brexit will have for his homeland.

"It probably won't affect people very much here, I understand that, but it will have a catastrophic effect on Northern Ireland because of the border," he says.

"The public should never have been asked to vote on Brexit in the first place, Cameron has got a lot to answer for. We vote for politicians do to those things for us, the public don't know. We are not educated enough, I include myself in that, it's why we have politicians and civil servants.

"We had all the promises about extra cash for the NHS. Think about all the time and effort that's been wasted over the last three years," he says.

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Mr Entwistle has reservations about the leaders of both our political parties.

"We need a fairer society, but with Eton-educated toffs running the country, that's not going to happen.

"I'm a socialist, and I agree with a lot of the things Jeremy Corbyn says, but he's not electable. I think he's fair and honest, and I do trust him.

"I think the girl who leads the Liberal Democrats is very good, but I couldn't tell you her name.

"Of the Tories, the one I do respect is Rory Stewart, he has served in the Army, as I have done. I don't have this idea that all politicians are bad, that's a lazy thing to say.

"That Labour MP in Birmingham – Jess Phillips – she's very good, she's got principles, I would watch her all day long."

Peter Wright of Mr Monkeys Emporium at Bridgnorth Market

Peter Wright, proprietor of Mr Monkeys Emporium in Bridgnorth Market, says there is much he likes about Boris Johnson, but wonders if the challenge of Brexit will prove too much.

"I like the fact that Boris got in, I think he's like a breath of fresh air, he's just different to everybody else, but I think it would be better if he didn't have Brexit to deal with," he says.

The 55-year-old, who lives in Tong, near Albrighton, says he voted to remain, but accepts that Britain will probably need to leave the EU.

"I think it's gone too far now," he says.

Mr Wright, who sells militaria, gifts, greetings cards and fancy goods, says most of his supplies come from Asia rather than the EU, but says prices went up anyway.

"I don't think a lot's going to change with no deal," he adds.

Arthur Bishop at the bus stop in Bridgnorth High Street

Waiting at the bus stop is retired council worker Arthur Bishop, 68, who says he still doesn't understand if or how Brexit will affect him.

"Will it have an effect on the person in the street, or is it just business?" he asks.

"I thought we were all right with Theresa May, I had no problem with her. We will see how Boris Johnson goes, I will give him a little bit longer to see how he goes. I definitely wouldn't want Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, I would stick with Boris Johnson."

Walking along Whitburn Street is Bill, who declined to give his surname, whose verdict on the state of the nation is also summed up in one word: 'terrible'.

A staunch Labour supporter, Bill says he too is unhappy with Mr Corbyn's leadership.

"We have got to get rid of this leader," he says. "I think we need to bring back Tony."

He criticises Mr Corbyn for his ambiguous stance on Brexit, saying he was trying to placate 'racist' leave voters in Labour's northern heartlands.

He is also critical of Mr Cameron for allowing the referendum to go ahead on the basis of a simple majority, saying the threshold should have been higher.

Sarah Pearce of Mike & Sarah's Butchers in Bridgnorth

Over at Mike & Sarah's Butchers in Whitburn Street, owner Sarah Pearce shares many of Bill's sentiments, although she voted Leave in the referendum.

She says it is too soon to pass judgement on Boris Johnson, and has some sympathy for Theresa May, but is critical of the way David Cameron resigned straight after the vote.

"I voted to come out, but I think Theresa May has been persecuted, I don't think it's her fault, it's the people she had around her," she says.

"David Cameron started the whole thing off, but left her to clear up when it didn't go his way."

Despite being a traditional Labour voter, Mrs Pearce, 43, has no time at all for Mr Corbyn.

"I used to always be a voter for the Labour Party, but I could never vote Labour while he is in charge. He would never protect the country. He just tells youngsters what they want to hear, and that's how he gets votes, because they haven't got the life experience."

Like Mr Cheatham, she is concerned about the decline of the town, and says politicians need to start looking at problems closer to home.

"I have worked in this town all my life, 12 years in the family business, and I'm watching the town decline because nothing gets done."

Tourists Kay and Michael Ollerenshaw

Visiting Bridgnorth for the first time are Michael and Kay Ollerenshaw, from Dorset.

"I'm a bit more optimistic since Boris Johnson came in," says Mrs Ollerenshaw, 64. "I think we will leave on time."

Her 75-year-old husband is more sceptical.

"I think we might be delayed again," he says.

"I'm an optimist and he's a pessimist, responds Mrs Ollerenshaw. "We both voted to leave."

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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