He tells a story about an A&E waiting room in Kent after his son fell over and hit his head on a shower railing. “The only English accents were mine, my dad’s and my other half’s. Everybody else was from abroad. My dad looked at it as if I’m 15 down in the queue for an institution I built and my parents worked towards. We built this.” I point out that the NHS might have been more affected by austerity than immigration, and anyway, immigrants have brought more money into the country in the form of tax – just look it up. “Aha, yes, they may well do, bruv – so am I going to base my entire idea on what the ONS says? This is the insanity of it: the right blame everything on immigrants and the left blame everything on the Tories.”
Four pints in and we’re not convincing each other, so we head to the pie and mash shop for some stodge. “Rarely do good things happen when people have been drinking, but what’s worse?” says Dan. “People have a drink, or all the pubs go.” Such considerations are part of the reason identity is such an important political subject today. People see change, and it’s often for the worse. In Grays, the local theatre is set to close. In recent years, the ground of Grays Athletic Football Club, which stood for over 100 years and was a point of local pride, was bulldozed to make way for flats.
In the English magazine Somesuch Stories, journalist Tim Burrows travels from London to the English countryside to talk with regular folks about the changing UK, race, immigration and the reasons behind Brexit.