Brits in Berlin pub watch Brexit results in horror

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Brits in Berlin pub watch Brexit results in horror
Photo: Ali Butt/The Local

Britain deciding to leave the European Union has cast a great shadow over British citizens living in Berlin.


It's 5am at Das Gift, a Scottish pub in Berlin's Neukölln district. The BBC's coverage of the EU referendum results is being beamed from a projector onto the wall.

The atmosphere is electric. Vote counts have started to roll in regularly, and it's neck-and-neck.

Unsurprisingly in this left-wing neighbourhood, every single Brit in the pub seems to have voted to remain in the EU. People cheer when results from their home constituency have a Remain majority.

But the mood soon changes. The Leave vote starts to pull ahead, and the cheery late-night vibe becomes quiet and sombre.

People stop chatting about the EU debate and instead begin worrying about how a Leave result might affect them and their country.

"I'm so annoyed that this has happened," says Devon, England native Amy, as the Leave vote starts to gain the ascendancy. She's been living in Berlin now for four years.

"There's so much hatred and distrust in the world as it is. Why build more walls?" she asks, clearly very emotional.

"I know the EU isn't perfect," she says. "No system is. But look at how deaths from war have dropped since we've [Great Britain] been a part of it."

Nigel Farage, leader of the anti-EU UKIP party, appears on the screen as Leave pulls further ahead. 

"June 23rd will go down in history as our independence day," he announces to boos, yells and swearing from the crowd in the pub.

James, a teacher from London, is wearing an EU flag around his neck like a cape.

He says enthusiastically that moving to and starting to work in Berlin "was the easiest thing in the world". James came to Germany with no plan or savings "to see if it works out". If it didn't, he could just return home.

"Until now I never felt there was an end date [to my stay in Berlin]. I always thought I could work here indefinitely," he says, defeated.

By the time Sam from Lincoln expresses his views, it is fairly clear that the people of Great Britain have chosen to leave the European Union.

"I'm worried about the world we're going into," he says. "This is more regression than progression."

But he criticizes how the Remain camp fought their campaign.

"The whole Remain campaign was really condescending. People hate being told that they don't know what's best for them," he says.

By six o'clock in the morning, most people have traipsed out of the pub in despair. Those remaining look tired and emotional.

Jenny, a 39-year-old from Manchester, is sitting at the back by herself. She woke up an hour earlier and needed to be in a place where other people were watching the coverage.

"I'm terrified and devastated," she admits.

"The British working classes have been completely carved up by a Tory trick. The rights that have been fought for for decades through the EU have been robbed from them.

"I'm really worried about the people back in my home town. Their economic situation is going to go down the pan."

She finishes by apologizing for ranting. We are the first people she could talk to since the results came in.

Greg from Wales is watching the coverage with a group of German and English friends. He says the vote has robbed him of his identity.

"Above all the consideration of finances, my identity has been attacked. I feel I can be Welsh, British and European at the same time and a plebiscite has forced me to reject that."

"[But] I am as European as someone from Munich, as someone from Murcia."

He also says his future in Germany is now in doubt.

"I will need to get a visa to earn money - that takes time. I can't survive that wait."

Katie from Scotland has also just arrived at the bar. Holding a beer in her hand, she describes how it seemed that Remain would win when she fell asleep early in the morning.

With family in Northern Ireland and Scotland, two regions that voted strongly to remain, she says that the vote has removed these parts of the kingdom even further from England.

"The UK won't ever be as united as it was - dividing lines have been drawn." 

By Ali Butt and Jörg Luyken



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