'Not another one!' Britons brace for yet another vote

London (AFP) –


In 2017, a flabbergasted pensioner named Brenda gained viral fame for her reaction to news that Britain was to go to the polls for the third successive year.

"You're joking," the woman who will forever be known as "Brenda from Bristol" told a BBC television crew. "Not another one!"

Brenda was seen as speaking for a weary nation.

But on Tuesday, office workers bustling around London seemed to relish the chance to settle the Brexit crisis started by one of those votes, as a third general election in four years loomed.

"It was inevitable," market researcher John Puleston said of the deadlock that has been gripping Britain's decision makers and painfully playing out on marathon news shows.

"It's nice that it's going back to the people," civil servant Helena MacIntyre agreed as she picked at a takeaway lunch box on a scenic park bench.

"I think it's time for the public to give their views on things," the 20-something Londoner said.

The UK capital is a global city that in 2016 voted heavily in favour of the country keeping its nearly half-century ties with its closest trading partners in the 27-nation EU bloc.

Government workers also tend to have pro-European views that they are meant to keep private as they go about performing their civil duty of helping the government to deliver Brexit.

But even the most experienced servants of the British crown recognise the impact of the stalemate on the public's patience.

"Most people on the street are just fed up with it and want a resolution one way or another," 60-year-old government worker Mark Durgin said.

Younger ones like Diana Blake also seemed genuinely curious about the mood of the nation after years of arguing in parliament and the nation's pubs.

"It will be interesting to see what the public think because right now I feel like a lot of people are a bit confused and don't know what's going on," said Blake, who is in her 20s.

- 'Won't settle anything' -

Not everyone agreed that a pre-Christmas election would settle what is turning into an existential crisis affecting the public's mood.

Some questioned why they were being allowed to choose yet another government but not whether Britain should still leave the EU.

"It's interesting that we're allowed to vote in a general election but we're not allowed to vote on Brexit, which I find perplexing," the market researcher Puleston said on his way back from lunch.

"We're allowed to change our minds about who runs the government but we're not allowed to change our minds about this," the 55-year-old fumed.

Both government and parliament have refused to back a second Brexit referendum because, if it produced a "Remain" vote, it would look undemocratic to undo the results of the first one.

A pre-Christmas election in early December is another matter.

The prime minister's Conservatives are leading opinion polls and appear on track -- or at least close -- to getting the majority Johnson's minority government craves.

"I think Boris Johnson will get the majority needed to get us out with a deal," said Durgin.

But a smartly-dressed woman who identified herself jokingly as "Brenda" because her husband was an MP and she "will get in trouble for talking" said an election would not solve a thing.

"If you get all different kinds of MPs back and no clear majority, you're going to be in the same position with all the argument that Brexit brought up," the pension-age woman said on her way past parliament.

"There are so many views on Brexit. This won't settle anything," she said with a firm shake of the head.