For the National March to rejoin the EU on 22 October 2022, a set of 12 placards from East Kent were prepared by East Kent for Europe volunteers. They were carried up in the train to London by some stalwarts from Canterbury. For the photoshoot, above, people from different parts of East Kent – Margate, Sandgate, Ashford, Biddenden, Tenterden, Faversham – joined them to carry these placards on the march to Parliament Square.
Note that the slogans on these placards all represent news that has reached us about the effects of Brexit on Kent specifically. Some of these have featured in articles in Kent Bylines, as linked in the explanations below.
Why Brexit is not okay for us in Kent
- Whitstable Oysters can’t be sold in French Restaurants: This article investigates the news that the thriving oyster business in Whitstable can no longer be allowed to export fresh shellfish directly to France since Brexit, because of hygiene rules that apply to non-EU importers.
- Eurostar is not stopping in Ashford or Ebbsfleet: Dan Staples, an Ashford resident, writes about how he used to work both in Paris and London, taking the Eurostar to reach customers for bespoke tailoring.
- EU school parties give Canterbury a miss: The narrow medieval streets of Canterbury, especially around the Cathedral, used to be packed with teenagers speaking French, Flemish, German, Dutch, all coming by coach to visit one of the heritage sites of Europe. Not so many now, which is a loss to the souvenir shops and tour guides.
- Stuck for hours in Dover holiday queues to cross the Channel: This traffic chaos at Dover was widely reported in the local, national and international Press. This affects tourists coming into Kent too, as Robert Sissons an experienced tour guide describes.
- Long waits on M20 for HGVs carrying British exports: Various articles on the M20 and Dover gridlock revealed this. It is shocking that government ministers intent on Brexit did not anticipate this.
- South East Language Schools suffer drop in EU staff and students: This is an article that has been commissioned from a Polish informant who comes every year to teach in an English as a Foreign Language school in Canterbury. In July she informed us that the school is struggling to get enough staff and students this year because of new Brexit visa rules.
- Unable to employ au pair childcarers from EU as before: The informant for this article used to run a business from Sevenoaks recruiting and placing au pair childcarers from various European countries who wanted to spend some months with an English family learning English. She had to give up the business because of Brexit.
- Thanet Earth binned £320k of produce due to lack of EU workers: This was a news item from Farmers Weekly about this huge vegetable farm in Thanet which had to bin tomatoes because of the shortage of seasonal workers who used to come from the EU.
- Freedom to work across the EU was taken away by Brexit: The information in this article comes from a Folkestone-based photographer who used to team up with other UK service providers and arrange glamorous wedding venues in France: a business no longer viable since Brexit.
- NHS staff have left, putting more pressure on the health service: This shows a chart from the Health Foundation which shows the proportion of nurses in the NHS who used to come from the EU.
- Kent brewery suffered loss of EU export markets: This is about the Old Dairy brewery which has taken a hit of 95% of their exports. They now find it too costly with post-Brexit customs regulations to export to their EU customers.
- £5–6million hit to tourism from EU in Canterbury: This article says the hit is from COVID, but it is obvious (see 3 above) that the school parties are fewer because of Brexit, and also the families and loved ones of the many nurses had come to Kent (see 10 above) would have made excursions here.
So, thanks to the volunteers who carried these placards to Parliament Square. We made the point from East Kent: BREXIT is NOT OKAY for us in Kent.
These placards will continue to be used at street stalls planned for Saturday mornings in various towns across East Kent. If you wish to volunteer for these, please email [email protected]