about Brexit

Romania sellers are unsure of their future, but customers have been supportive

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Romanian vendors of Big Issue North are uncertain about their future following last week’s referendum result to leave the EU, but have thanked their customers for their support in the run-up to Friday’s vote.

“I heard this morning when I woke up and I was very scared,” said Ramona Dumitiu, who sells Big Issue North in Romiley, near Stockport, speaking on 24 June. “I thought that someone would come and take me and my family out of the house. I don’t know what it means. I am worried.”

Dumitiu, 21, has lived in the UK since she was 12 and her three children were born here. She sells the magazine because it is a way for her to work and also look after her children.

“This is my home,” she said last Friday morning. “All my family live here. People on the train this morning were all looking at me as if they were worried about us. I could see sadness in their eyes.”

Both the North West and Yorkshire and Humber – the two regions where Big Issue North is sold – voted to leave the UK but there were significant variations within them. Manchester and Liverpool clearly voted to remain, and Leeds by a narrow margin, but Sheffield voted to leave.

‘Really sad’

Dumitiu said: “All my customers, except for one man, have said they want to stay in Europe – that they want us all to be closer together. They have been talking to me about it and I have felt very welcomed and all my customers are very kind to me.

“That is why I love England. That is why I want it to still be my home.”

Her fears were echoed by another vendor, Emanuel Dumitru – no relation – who also came to the UK when he was 12. He sells the magazine in Manchester city centre. “I am really sad. I’ve been here for seven years and now I’m worried about the future.”

Another vendor, who asked not to be named, added: “I feel unwelcome here. We will just go and find another country. That is what we have always done.”

Other Romanian vendors in Manchester were optimistic. Stefan Nan said: “I am happy. I respect what the British people have said. I came to the UK to work, not to claim benefits. I now work, I pay my taxes, I rent a house. This will not change.”

In Liverpool one vendor said the leave vote was “heartbreaking”. Another said: “I am scared for the future.”

But other vendors in Liverpool said they were pleased with the result as it would allow the country to make its own laws, and Howard, who sells the magazine in Leeds, said: “I feel over the moon. We can now make the future whatever we want and hopefully a better one.”

Colin Talbot, professor of government and public policy at Manchester University, said Britain is now entering a period of “severe economic and political turmoil” and a recession is “more than likely”.

He added: “Constitutionally the likely result is that Scotland will have a new referendum, and vote to leave the UK, before we have even finished withdrawing from the EU. Indeed they have every incentive to do so to try and stay in the EU.

“Politically we are likely to see a major realignment in British politics. Tim Farron of the Lib Dems has already made a pitch for a centre-left realignment around a pro-EU social democratic coalition. It is hard to see how the pro-EU Tories will survive.”

He believed Boris Johnson would become Tory leader. “Given the majority of MPs – both Tory and Labour – are in favour of remain a fresh general election becomes almost inevitable,” he said.

“The process of leaving is going to be messy and prolonged, and there is no consensus amongst the leavers about what they want next.”

Photo: Ramona Dumitiu, who sells Big Issue North in Romiley, near Stockport, says her customers were extremely supportive in the run-up to the EU vote

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