I must confess I did not completely appreciate the severity of Brexit, as the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the European Union (EU) is popularly known. As an immigrant in the UK, and having lived solely in London, I was unaware of the existential angst of the larger population outside of London. So, when the UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016 by a narrow margin, it was quite surprising to me.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can say I should have seen it coming. The UK always had had a contentious relationship with the EU and had been slowly drifting apart from the mainland since 1992 when the UK withdrew from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Brexit was the expected denouement of what was essentially a long history of slow and painful divorce.
What was also expected was that the process of divorce would be difficult - very difficult. But, no one expected the difficulty of what transpired afterwards. There were quite obvious strong feelings on either side of the Brexit debate and Parliamentary proceedings notwithstanding, those feelings flowed out on the streets, resulting in mass protests against Brexit and spurning general debates on larger issues like democracy, freedom and Britain’s place in European history. Overall, it took a little more than 3 gruelling years for the British Government to agree a deal with the EU and get it approved within the Parliament.
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
This project showcases scenes from public gatherings from both sides of the debate, arguably at times when they were at their strongest. The anti-Brexit (“remain in the EU”) camp conducted multiple processions with tens of thousands of people in each rally. The anti-Brexit photos display sights from one such procession. The pro-Brexit photos are from a gathering of their supporters on 31 January 2020 - the date when the UK finally exited the EU. The idea of the project is to exhibit the stark difference in motivations and emotions between the two sides of the debate.
At the time of writing (10 April 2020), I work as an economic policy adviser within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy within the UK government. These photos are solely my expression and in no way reflect the opinions of my employer.
Copyright © 2020 Arpan Ganguli - All Rights Reserved.