Yesterday evening a handful of Brexit supporters huddled together in the corner of a largely empty car park in Merthyr Tydfil, a town which is no longer a desolate shithole thanks to millions of pounds of investment from the EU.
The Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil has seen its fair share of depressing sights over the years – a decade ago it had some of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the country – but the Brexit bus rolling into view must be right up there.
A Brexit Party rally attracted about as many attendees as an STD clinic run by Edward Scissorhands; Nigel Farage immediately pointed to a few remainers who blocked the road to stop people attending. But there are other reasons why the people of Merthyr might be turning away from Brexit.
The town benefited greatly from an £80 million EU grant to regenerate town centres in Wales. Now there are actually thriving local businesses, tourism, jobs and hope. Merthyr also benefited from a further £80 million from the EU to convert the nearby Heads of the Valleys road (A465) into a dual carriageway.
Despite a Leave vote of 58% in 2016 perhaps the people of Merthyr now realise that a shouty racist man on a bus isn’t really what their community needs in order to thrive.
“Bollocks!” said Brexiter and Merthyr resident Simon Williams. “Yes, the EU gave us millions of pounds and built such and such and blah, blah, blah.
“But we put in more than we get back, don’t we? So imagine how much inward investment deprived areas will get after Brexit.
“This Tory government cares just as much about social regeneration as the EU – they’ll replace any lost funding and then some!