The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union is one of the most dramatic political events of our time. This project takes the audience through a labyrinth of causes leading to Brexit, aiming to move beyond the headlines and present a more nuanced and complex narrative about polarization and political disruption.
Aleksandra from Lithuania works in a factory. She is a single mom and has just fallen in love. Albert is a retired fisherman, widower and ready to have fun. They both reside in the same English town, but live totally separate lives. In no other town did more inhabitants vote to leave the EU than in Boston, Lincolnshire. The catalyst was a growing discontent with the increasing number of migrant workers coming from eastern Europe, but underneath the surface was also a built-up frustration with widespread poverty and political powerlessness.
The photographer Line Ørnes Søndergaard and the writer Yohan Shanmugaratnam followed Aleksandra, Albert and Boston from the time leading up to the referendum and through the following years of turbulence, until Brexit went into effect on January 1st, 2021.
In this project we get to know both sides of the story: on one hand, the photographer helps us to look beyond stereotypes, politicians and pundits, and on the other, to get closer to people who actually have something at stake.
This work started as an ongoing reportage series because of an assignment from the Norwegian newspaper “Klassekampen”. This is a story about opening borders and closing minds, about class and identity, solidarity and distrust. And about love, loss and the need to belong.
Photo copyright: © Line Ørnes Søndergaard