THE borough of Woking bucked the South East trend by voting to remain a part of the European Union on Thursday – but that couldn’t prevent the nation choosing to sever ties with its continental counterparts.
After a night fraught with tension the country was split into two camps come Friday morning, with a 51.9% majority signalling the end of the UK’s membership with the EU after 43 years.
The result was so damning for Prime Minister David Cameron that shortly after the verdict was announced he declared his intention to resign.
But the view of ‘the People’ was not shared in Woking, where 56.15% of voters wanted a nation united with the rest of Europe.
Of the 55,261 people to cast their ballot, 31,007 wanted to remain; 24,214 putting a cross in the ‘Leave’ box. Just 40 votes were spoiled. The turnout was 77.48% – above the 72.7% national average.
Conservative Councillor Mark Pengelly, who represents Mount Hermon and was a spearhead figure in the ‘Conservatives In’ movement – a campaign launched to persuade people to stay put in the election – was one of many searching for a silver lining last week. He said: “I’m pleased that a majority in Woking voted to remain – that’s the outward-looking borough I know and love.”
Of Woking’s four immediate neighbours, two produced a majority to stay while the remainder opted to part ways with the EU; Guildford and Elmbridge representing Remain and Michael Gove’s Surrey Heath and Runnymede calling for Leave. The borough’s results represent the consensus across the rest of the county, with six of Surrey’s 11 districts and boroughs wanting to stay a part of the Union.
A petition calling for a second referendum has even been launched given the closeness of the verdict – with 3.2 million signatures collected at the time of writing.
But avid local Leave campaigner Robert Shatwell says the voice of the nation must be respected by political leaders once the dust has settled. He told the News & Mail: “Brits have delivered a clear message that we do not want to be ruled by a dictatorship.
“I appreciate that hard times are ahead, but now we have to set aside our differences and work to get the best out of this decision to leave.”
Mr Shatwell said that petitions against the result were ‘not worth the paper they are written on’ and said that UKIP, of which he is a member, will go from strength to strength on the back of this verdict.
He concluded: “We are now recognised as a force to be reckoned with.”