Rival EU referendum campaigners were out in Wimbledon over the weekend trying to convince residents and passersby to support their side.
Outside Wimbledon station Stronger In activists in blue t-shirts clashed with Grassroots Out and others in green stopping passers-by and canvassing their views.
They set up trestle tables and handed out leaflets, flyers and stickers in preparation for the town going to the polls on June 24.
“People are always happy to stop and chat,” said first-time campaigner and volunteer team leader Kelly Marie Braund, 25. “It’s been good to make a dialogue with most of the people around.”
She reported a positive reception in Wimbledon, which in line with the rest of London is ‘overwhelmingly pro’.
The particularly cross-party nature of the campaign was apparently drawing people in to talk who otherwise might not.
Stronger In have been leafleting commuters most evenings and apparently have a strong enough activist base that they use up all their leaflets every day.
“They just believe in this issue so much that it drives them out onto the streets to talk to people about it,” said Kelly.
Just outside Wimbledon Broadway Tesco were a mix of ‘out’ campaigns including Vote Leave, Grassroots Out, Better Off Out, Leave.EU and UKIP, all working together unofficially in an attempt to swing the vote to get the UK out of the EU.
Their activists were a bit older but no less passionate than the ‘in’ side.
“There’s a chap down there from the Stronger In campaign, no-one’s paying any attention to him” boasted UKIP activist and Kentish man Thomas Klaus Pritchard, who was staying with family in Wimbledon and decided to help out.
This was his first visit to Wimbledon, despite being an AFC Wimbledon supporter, and he said he found the town ‘quite a nice place’.
He said the main reason he had for supporting the campaign was for political sovereignty and democracy.
“75% OF British law is now made in Brussels, which is in my opinion an absolute disgrace,” he said. “There are genuinely profound reasons why people might want to retain democratic control over their government, rather than cede it to the EU.”
The leave campaign has particularly focused on the immigration as the referendum date approaches, arguing that EU levels could overwhelm public services.
Mr Pritchard said that because of pressure on schools, hospitals and social housing, ‘we can’t take any more in.’
“On our passports the first thing it says at the top is ‘European Union’,” he said. “Anyone with that passport that says EU on it has the right to come to Britain.”
“Now I don’t think that’s the way forward.”
In April, Green MEP Jean Lambert appeared on Wimbledon Common to highlight its status as a ‘special area of conservation’ according to the European Union.
Conservative MP Stephen Hammond has also expressed his support for the Remain campaign saying: “Following the renegotiation, I believe it is in the UK’s best interests to remain a member of a reformed European Union.”
Picture courtesy of Celso FLORES, with thanks