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Brits Living in Wisconsin Worry About Brexit

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Marc Isaacs
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Radhika Maheshwari and Richard Johnson at the Three Lions Pub in Shorewood.

At the Three Lions Pub in Shorewood, you can get scotch eggs, bangers and mash, and a pint of Guinness, often served with added authenticity by young people who’ve moved here from somewhere in the United Kingdom. WUWM's Bonnie Petrie stopped by the pub to get thoughts on UK's vote to exit the European Union.

Richard Johnson of York, England, is one of them. He was surprised by the result of the recent Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. He knew it would be close, but he thought voters would choose to remain a part of the EU. His city voted to remain. His county -- Yorkshire -- voted to leave, and, of course, the UK, as a whole, voted to leave, as well.

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Credit Bonnie Petrie
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Richard Johnson is a British citizen living in Shorewood. He is concerned by the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Johnson is 25, and like most Brits his age, he was strongly in favor of remaining in the EU. His grandfather, however, like many of his generation, was not.

“My grandpa wanted to vote 'out' but I don’t believe he actually looked into what were the consequences, and nothing’s really going to affect him, you know? He’s retired. He’s living in a care home. What’s his opinion on it? He couldn’t really give me one," Johnson says.

Yorkshire is a working class area, and Johnson thinks worries about jobs and the economy had something to do with people there voting to leave the EU, but, he is convinced there was an even more powerful motivation for “leave” voters there. 

Immigration.

Johnson says there is a large Muslim population, and, "for some reason or another", some people don't like it.

Radhika Maheshwari is a former Londoner. Even though she now lives nearly four-thousand miles away, in Shorewood, she stays in close contact with friends and family there.  Many of them, like her,  arrived as immigrants. She says anti-immigrant sentiment has intensified during the Brexit campaign.

"It’s like the Donald Trump campaign over here, which is bringing out the worst in certain people," Maheshwari says. "I think they might have felt it, but didn’t overtly say it…and that was enough. And now that that’s happening, it’s just ugly. It’s ugly to know there’s this side to humanity."

It is also a time of economic instability in the UK. Maheshwari owns property in London. She has investments there. She is prepared as she can be to ride out this uncertainty here in Wisconsin until the United Kingdom finds a new normal.  

The UK and the EU have two years to figure out the terms of this breakup, and what that means to British and European citizens.

Here in the Midwest, nothing should change for British citizens. British Deputy Consul General Martin Whalley in Chicago says Brexit will not impact the residency of any British citizens living in Wisconsin, or anywhere else in the US.

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