Day 6

Brexit: Why one London community voted to leave 5 months early

In a symbolic move, the East London borough of Havering voted in favour of Brexit way back in January. Five months later, the area now knows its margin of victory was the largest of any London neighbourhood. Councilor Osman Dervish explains the move.
A European Union flag with a hole cut in the middle flies at half-mast outside a home in Knutsford Cheshire, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Britain has spoken, and it wants out.

On Thursday, millions heeded the call of right-wing politicians and some media and voted to separate from the European Union.

The 'leave' side won with 52% of the vote.  It's a narrow margin of victory — but enough to reshape Britain's place in the world and force a change in leadership.

Shortly after news organizations called the election in favour of a 'Brexit,' British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will leave 10 Downing street before before October.

A man takes a copy of the London Evening Standard with the front page reporting the resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the vote to leave the EU. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

The referendum results and rancor over the divisive campaign suggest Britain is a is deeply divided country. In England, every region outside of London voted to leave. But in the densely populated capital, the vote went heavily in favour of staying.

A handful of East London boroughs voted to leave, but none more convincingly than Havering — which it did so way back in January.  

Bucking the trend

Havering councillor Osman Dervish tells CBC's Day 6 host Brent Bambury the mood was very good after the vote.

"It's very positive. The people are excited about the possibility to leave," he tells Bambury from his local barbershop.

He says it's been a moment in waiting for a lot of people on London's east end, who grew up during the Second World War and don't like the idea of any group or any other nation telling Britain what to do.

But he also says it's a matter of what's best for Britain in the future.

"The idea of a parliament that is so far removed from real society, which is what I believe Europe's parliament is, doesn't give me confidence," he says. "And in terms of trade, I'm looking to the future for my children and my children's children."

Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Havering, Hillingdon and Sutton were the only five London boroughs to vote in favour of leaving the European Union. But Havering proved to be outliers in more ways than one.

On January 27, a full five months ahead of the referendum, Havering Council voted by 30 to 15 in favour of a motion declaring the UK to be better off without the EU.

That turned out to be the largest 'leave' margin of all London boroughs.

In all, the leave side collected 17.4 million votes while the 'remainers' totalled 16.1 million votes.