by Larry Neild
LONDON, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Sid O'Neill voted along with 17 million-odd other Britons to leave the European Union (EU) on June 23, 2016.
Politicians, academics and experts are still slugging out the rights and wrongs of Brexit. But as British Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50 to start an irreversible divorce from the EU, what do ordinary British people think?
In an interview with Xinhua, Sid O'Neill, a man from the industrial heartlands of northern England, discusses what Brexit will mean for him and his family.
Sid O'Neill, 52, lives with his wife Lisa, 48, and three of their four children in an industrial town on the outskirts of Liverpool.
O'Neill, who earns 24,500 U.S. dollars a year collecting discarded pharmaceuticals for disposal, said: "I voted leave and so did Lisa. She had no qualms about coming out of Europe, and was very keen to vote leave. I honestly thought it was the right thing to do. We are a working class family, traditional Labor voters. In some ways I think it was an emotional thing."
"I wouldn't say my final decision was a struggle, but in the campaigning before the referendum on June 23 as the debates went on, there were days when I couldn't make up my mind.
"I was influenced by Nigel Farage of UKIP. He spoke the same kind of language as many British people," O'Neill said, adding that were he to vote again now, he is not sure how he would vote, but that he didn't regret his decision.
Lisa O'Neill, a support worker in a hostel for abused wives, earning just under 30,000 U.S. dollars a year, said she would still vote leave.
"We still don't know how the EU will react to Brexit when the real negotiations start. We knew when we voted it would be a difficult journey for Britain," Sid O'Neill said.
"The EU will feel the need to show other member states the grim consequences of wanting out. The Germans and some of the other countries will not want to be seen giving us an easy ride," he said.
"My generation has not been frogmarched off to fight in the trenches of Europe, unlike the generations caught up in two world wars in the 20th century. In that sense the EU has helped peace and stability across Europe. Ultimately though, Brexit will be seen as bad for Europe."
"Britain leaving is like knocking down the first domino, so I hope there is no chain reaction. Leaving also shows signs of disunity for the EU in its current guise.
"France, like Britain, has a large working class population and they are seeing the impact of immigration. Brexit may lead to questions being raised among other member states about the benefits of being in the EU."
O'Neill said that though they were Labor voters, they were impressed with the fact Prime Minister May was sticking by the referendum results and the job she was doing around the exit procedures.
Both said they thought the result would affect their family in the future.
"I don't see us benefitting whether we had voted remain or leave. But I thought voting leave was worth the risk. There will be change after Brexit," O'Neill adds.