English rugby supporters in Dublin slow to tackle Brexit
British sense of humour hits hard border at the ‘B’ word but they'll be back 'if we can get a visa'
Jenny Clayton, from Yorkshire, in Temple Bar in Dublin ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations match between England and Ireland. Photograph: James Forde
“Hey lads: are you over for the rugby?” The question, accompanied by our best reporter’s smile, never failed to elicit a good-natured, often humorous response from from the droves of English fans in Temple Bar who are over for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Ireland.
“And, lads, what about the Brexit thing?” Suddenly the near and middle distance is empty of rugby supporters.
Then we tried a work-around: “And lads, after you are beaten, tell me how will you get back next year when the Brexit border goes up?”
Thankfully the British sense of humour is still alive, although the laughter generally stops at the “B” word.
Ben Hoddy, from Southampton, and his friends James Hayward, from Suffolk, and Piers Dunford, from Milton Keynes, were among a group combining the rugby and Hoddy’s stag. The three said they hadn’t wanted Britain to leave the European Union, and would be back next year “if we can get a visa” .
“We are not worried, we are banking on getting it undone,” said Hayward, to hoots of laughter.
So does that mean another vote on Brexit? “Hopefully,” said Hayward. The response, repeated by many in the group, was followed by a seeming determination not to get serious about Brexit on a lads’ weekend. “That was a serious conversation killer,” one of the group said as they posed for a group photograph.
In Temple Bar Square the flame-haired “Flameheads” were replete with wigs and aliases. “Phil Snakehips” (later identified as Phil Eremenko) from Northampton said he and his friend “Badger Flamehead” from Nottingham had voted to leave.
Apparently it was a surprise to them that their friend Peter “Snickers Flamehead” had voted to remain. Bank manager Peter Holian and his wife Laura, from Margate in Kent, were more inclined to discuss “the Brexit”. While he would have preferred if Britain had remained in the EU he would not want another vote. “That is democracy,” he said.
The Temple Bar pub was heaving with rugby followers including David Sullivan and Paul French from Cardiff and Scott and Joe Clay from Leeds.
“We are all embarrassed about it, very embarrassed,” said French, referring to the Welsh vote in favour of Brexit.
We asked how they thought it was going to go. “Badly,” said Sullivan, while others in the group said neither Wales nor the north of England should be allowed to vote if there was a new referendum.
Nearby were James Everard and Nigel Ellis from Warwickshire. Everard said if there was a no-deal Brexit “logistics is f***ed”. Ellis said he had not told anyone which way he had voted. He said he was working for a British company in Germany and knew the recruitment industry “where 80 per cent of low-skilled workers come from the EU”. They were hard workers “who turn up and work”, he said.
He said British negotiators were up against the problem that there were 27 other EU countries and one Britain. “The real reason they don’t want a hard border in Ireland is terrorism,” he said. “I do not want terrorists determining what my vote is going to be. From a democratic perspective, we had a democratic vote: let’s leave.”