A week before departure my brother requested to join me in this adventure. Consequently we agreed to rendezvous in London to prepare for the journey. I arrived in London to a wonderful apartment overlooking the Olympic velodrome with the company of my brother and his lovely friends. It struck me that the London my brother lives in is inhabited by an abundance of beautiful and talented young professionals. A metropolitan and liberal elite for whom the world has offered itself as a rich buffet of opportunity. It is these young London professionals who sit demographically at the extreme remain end of referendum voters. The antithesis of the deprived northern industrial towns that voted so overwhelmingly to leave. The nearest I get to the other extreme is the young homeless people I work with in South Yorkshire who have nothing and rely on £57.90 a week in Job Seekers Allowance or low skill apprenticeships that pay £3.30 an hour. Many of the the young people have family in Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley who demographically voted 70% to leave the EU.
These two groups are not opposed to each other. Many of my brothers friends work and vote with the intention to alleviate inequality and help the people I work with. The divide in this case in not between two groups seeking self interest at the expense of the other, but rather a difference of opinion on how to most effectively achieve a goal. This feels like a healthier way of discussing Brexit. Rather than vilifying those with different political opinions we should be seeking to find solutions we agree on. We have several years of reshaping the UK and it’s relationship to the world and we need all parts of the UK to be involved. We may have ignored the negative impact that globalisation and mechanisation has brought to industrial towns but perhaps now’s time to look anew.
Other than talking politics in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency I have found time to give my brother tips for his first cycle tour, from the advantage of going commando under your cycling shorts to the importance of flapjack. As a professional writer I’ll leave him to explain his thoughts on our Brexit journey for the next blog post.
Meanwhile I have been sending requests on couchsurfing.com and warmshowers.org in the hope that we’ll be welcomed into homes along the way. Whilst I expect that the people I meet will be self selecting in the views and outlook I hope that I will get a variety of opinions from people who are getting on with life since the Brexit vote.