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#Ferry- In the Welsh port town of Holyhead, The Irish Times reports, even Santa voted to leave the European Union. Santa’s other name is Richard Burnell. He’s 78 with a long white beard and he formerly worked in local government. This Christmas he will dress in a red suit and give presents to children on the Stena Line ferry.
“I think the idea of the EC [European Community] common market was fine,” says Santa. “But when it got to the stage that they wanted to rule the country, to govern us, I think this is what the people of Britain have kicked up against. We’ve got our own laws which go back hundreds of years.”
‘We were misled. I would change my mind now’
Burnell’s friend Beryl Warner also voted Leave. “In my opinion we were misled,” she says. “I’ve been doing voluntary work all my life, especially in the hospitals … We were told we would have £30 million more for the NHS, and that’s what really prompted me to say leave. I would change my mind now.”
Burnell is more optimistic. “There was a big fishing community in Holyhead, ” he says. “When the EC was formed, it vanished. And when we do get back to Britain we will have our trawling waters back … It’s going to be a challenge, no doubt about it, but it’s a big world out there. We can trade with the rest of the world.”
Do people discuss Brexit? “No,” says Warner. “No. I think that we didn’t know enough about it. We didn’t understand what was happening. Well, I for one didn’t ... Did you get the gist of it all?”
“No,” says Burnell. “There were so many different stories going around, you just had to pick the best bit out of all the stories and hope for the best really.”
Would he still vote the same way? He would, he says. “When you see what’s happening in Europe now, all the immigration and what have you.”
But Santa knows no borders, right? He laughs. “No borders at all. Those reindeers fly under the radar.”
I didn’t want to bring it up, but if there’s a no-deal Brexit next year, Santa and his reindeer will be subject to customs checks along with everyone else. The fear for Welsh politicians – Leavers and Remainers alike – is that, faced with such checks, Holyhead will be swamped by unsustainable traffic jams.
This would lead, they fear, to Irish hauliers going via Northern Ireland to Scotland or from Dublin to ports with larger hinterlands such as Liverpool, or, at worst, bypassing the UK “land bridge” entirely to ship directly to Europe. Holyhead is the second-busiest roll-on, roll-off ferry port in the UK.
About two million passengers, 423,000 lorries and 500,000 tons of cargo pass through each year.