Four days ago, we thought we were going
to Tory party conference
and then we changed our mind
and decided to come to Milton Keynes.
What’s it like in Milton Keynes?
I was born and bred in Milton Keynes,
I love Milton Keynes.
Like, we’ve got the bowl, we’ve got the Snow Dome and
we’ve got cinemas,
I think it’s a brilliant place to live.
What’s it like? Brexit?
If in any way I could include you.
I’m not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn.
And Boris Johnson?
Not a fan of him much either
which is my problem.
I’ve always been a Tory but I’m not sure now.
Why? What’s changed?
I wanted to remain anyway so …
I didn’t want to come out but …
And if you had politicians say, you know,
if we don’t leave, there will be civil disorder and
riots and all that, do you think that’s true?
I don’t think anything will happen,
I think it will get to the 31
and nothing will happen.
Life goes on.
See, the person we haven’t found
so far is Mister Angry.
You’re told this country might be
going nutty, right?
And the idea that everyone
sort of frothing at the mouth and full of anger.
I don’t meet many people like
that, I haven’t met any here yet.
There’s all sorts of problems here but at the
end of the day life is not that bad.
The vast majority of us live pretty well.
Everyone’s doing the shopping on a Sunday.
Exactly, do you know what I mean?
And a lot of that
has got to do with, like, all the things
as a country we’re supposed to be mad
at about, right?
Like the EU, all these international,
multinational companies and stuff.
But then, how do you feel about
it in yourself watching this unfold on telly?
I respect the fact that if people vote for something,
they vote for something
but having grown up in South Africa,
there’s one thing we do now
which we didn’t do before
in Apartheid days
which is compromise, you have to
compromise, you have to find a middle ground.
We haven’t got it in us anymore,
as a country to do things as ambitious
as building whole new cities which is
effectively what this.
That’s where we’re staying.
Politics in Milton Keynes suggests
England in microcosm.
Though it returned two Tory MPs in the last election, voters fell pretty evenly between Labour and
the Conservatives and in the 2016
referendum, Milton Keynes voted to leave
by roughly the same margin as Britain as a whole.
How many bedrooms have we got?
God, it’s nice here.
We should explain what this is, right?
Much as Milton Keynes has
been here for years, still ways in which
it points to the future.
This is one of them.
That has got someone’s groceries in it.
It’s an autonomous robot
and it’s on its way.
I don’t know why it stopped.
I think we made it stop.
What do you think of Boris Johnson?
Have got any views on Brexit?
But is that common sight?
Yeah, it is! It really is.
Sometimes I’m walking along here
and I’m like dodging the …
And if I am feeling in a silly mood
I might even say good morning to it
or something like that.
I was just having a chat with it.
What do you think of it?
How do you feel about it?
Well, I think you just have to accept that
that’s what the future’s going to be like, isn’t it?
I don’t know if you have any sense of this
but today is going to be a big day today
the prime minister’s making this speech,
giving his last offer to the European Union.
otherwise we are marching out.
I don’t think he’s sort of
prime ministerial material at all
and I’ve always voted Tory.
God, he’s coming back !
Follow the robot.
I am a moderate person so people
like the late John Smith
or Tony Blair, Ken Clarke or Amber Rudd, I want sort of moderate people
where do you think they’re taking the country?
Well, I don’t think they know, do they?
They don’t know how all of this is going to
pan out as evidenced by the closing down
of parliament and that was …
… it’s just absolute madness
and you wouldn’t have this in any organisation.
why is Britain, this hitherto stable sort of place,
why have we suddenly taken this?
Well I guess it’s kind of
multifaceted, isn’t it?
The people are not deferential
like they used to be
and people just had certain choices, didn’t they?
They the church or they were
employed for life by a local company …
But the interesting thing is, I’ve been to
places where I meet some people who are angry and
shouty and all that …
Now five days in Milton Keynes,
and I don’t feel that the Brexit fever
is caught on here.
Perhaps they feel somewhat protected by …
They live in a bubble, I don’t know.
What do you think it is then?
I think that’s because there is the weight of history in
Milton Keynes, you know, those same
resentments that I get in
pos-industrial places and so on.
I think a lot of people who I met here have
just got a sense of what I’ve got to do today.
What have you got to do today?
Well, I’m just going to meet
a friend for a coffee.
Well, I better leave you alone.
What’s it like living here?
It’s alright, it’s nice.
It’s quiet, there’s plenty of parking.
Are you following politics
in the news much at the minute?
Oh, Christ, I’m trying to stay way
if I’m honest with you.
How do you feel about it?
I voted for Brexit.
If there was an election next week,
who would you vote for?
I would probably go Liberal to be honest with you.
Only because I just don’t …
You are a leave voter
who might vote Liberal Democrats?
Only because I can’t vote Tory,
I cannot vote for the Conservatives,
just purely because I don’t agree with
hardly anything that they believe in
and I just don’t think Jeremy Corbyn
will get elected.
I just don’t think anyone likes him.
Thank you, sir.
Lovely to meet you.
I suspect that that’s the absolute centre ground.
Not in terms of issues and
left/right and that, I just mean the sort of
median point of where people are
right now, is that fella.
In the centre is a bit stale,
I wouldn’t live in the centre here.
Because no one lives here.
Well, they do.
You have not got a house?
Eight months you’ve been homeless.
Before I worked for four years.
They were not just sort of staring blankly
at those tents
sort of a fella in his 20s
emerged from a moment ago
and I spoke to him
and he wouldn’t talk for the camera but I got
the impression he was a trained electrician
who had worked on film sets
and he was desperate for work.
So he’s living in a dome tent, shaking
out his doormat.
It the middle of all this modern splendour.
I know it sort of lulls you into this sense that all the
problems you usually find all over the place
aren’t here and then suddenly
there they all are – everywhere.
Because the truth is, irrespective
of what it looks like,
Milton Keynes is just like everywhere else.
Can I sit down?
That’s very kind of you.
These are actually very comfy.
Can I ask you an obvious question?
How long have you been on the street?
Brought up in Surrey,
very good childhood, very good education,
with Dan, we’ve been together 18
years this year.
We came here but the work that he was promised for like several months actually dried up within seven weeks
so we couldn’t pay the rents therefore
we lost the flat.
We were here for Milton Keynes.
That’s why you came to Milton Keynes?
For a fresh start.
Milton Keynes from the outside, people
always think it’s like the sort of social middle,
most people are comfortably off.
This second London and …
I was quite struck since I’ve been here that homelessness particularly is pretty visible.
Last year there was a tent
in every underpass.
The council have just
taken the tents away from the underpasses
and disposed of them.
I mean, I used to have a tent.
All of a sudden came back one day and it’s
gone, with all of our stuff in it.
All of my photos, family photos
things that I’ll never get back. Gone.
One of the last lines of defence against
living on the streets is the bus shelter MK
which provides beds in what used
to be an tour bus.
So this is it!
… somebody has a top bunk to sleep in and they keep
their belongings in the bottom bunk.
Rents are going up, the people have been
evicted so the landlords can charge more rents
or they get laid off because they’re on a
When they come here they quite often
haven’t been on the streets for all that long
which is great because it means with a
little bit of help, they can get back.
Because a few months on the street,
it can be very, very difficult to get that back.
News presenter: ‘So, we are going to leave
the EU on October 31 even without a deal.
Have we heard how they propose to do that
given there’s a law in place
to stop a no-deal Brexit?’
Hello. Thank you very much indeed.
What tends to happen is,
if you spend all day sort of in the nitty giritty,
talking to people about real
things, and you come back home
and switch the telly on and it all goes absurd again.
I don’t think I’ve been told about
reality in some way.
It feels like I’m in a different
universe from the Tory conference,
which is a nice feeling.
We would be going off our
heads if we were there.
And the Brexit nightmare grinds on
or bleeps on.
That’s morse code for: ‘We’ve had it.’
When we’re on these trips and we meet
people who are sort doing work that
somehow offers a sense of hope, I guess,
more often than not they’re women.
Donna Fuller is the leader of
Woughton community council.
She moved to Milton Keynes in 1979
when this new town was just housing
and now she and her colleagues fill a lot of
the gaps left by austerity.
We backfill. We come in and we do things
that our residents need us to do.
One of those things is the community
fridge which distributes food
that would otherwise be thrown away.
Tell me about the difference
that the fridge makes.
This helps us a lot.
I’ve got a bad shoulder so I haven’t been
able to work for about three months.
And you’re getting sick pay?
I am getting sick pay
but it’s only £400 a month.
How can you live off £400 a month?
The government say I can live on that
but I can’t.
And I asked you about news and politics
and all that, do you have any sense
of where the country is going
at the minute with Brexit and all that?
The immigrants are going to go back home and then we’re gonna be stuck and the economy is not moving.
The NHS ain’t gonna have half
the nurses they’ve got.
There’s a lot of Polish people in warehouses
and they keep our country going.
Come on there, mate, let’s go.
I think I’m right in saying the
child poverty rate here is just
round about 40%?
But there are neighbourhoods I can drive
to in five minutes from here
where it’s like 5%?
Well, you just have to look
at the mortality rate.
Our parish borders the canal,
the parish opposite the canal,
and the other side of the canal which is
what? A 12 foot stretch
they will live 10 to 11 years longer than we will.
Just be sheer virtue that they live
on the other side of the canal.
It’s sort of Milton Keynes
is Britain in microcosm in every way.
And Woughton even more so.
Brexit is going on and there are all
sorts of arguments around that but actually,
that means nothing to the people around
What they’re worried about is what time
the community fridge is going to open.
It’s almost above them, it’s almost
happening to them, it’s not happening with them.
It’s been a sort of very
strange heady sort a week
because we’ve just been reminded that
in this country, you know,
you don’t have to look very far at all
to find that we’re in a fragile
sort of state and we got all sorts of problems
and yet the people in charge
are talking with this sort of madcap urgency
about getting out of the EU by October the
31st and ending free movement once and for all.
Well, I’ve never heard a Tory politician
even when they
have talked about homelessness and child
poverty and food banks,
I’ve never heard him talk in those sort of terms of ending it all, do or die
and yet here we are and that’s
their attitude to this thing
which can have God knows what consequences.
Ordering our lunch from a robot.
Should we get some strawberries?
Come on man you’ve got to go
with the get with the programme here.
Right, eta is 32 minutes, right?
Of course it’s absurd.
His voice you just got a
boom out across here, man.
Right, the robot is on the way.
So is Boris Johnson.
Radio presenter; ‘The va-va-voom, the crowd who were just shouting: Boris, Boris, Boris,
in the background want to hear.’
‘As you’re talking about va-va-voom,
here he comes, entering the hall.’
Here it is.
Boris Johnson: This House of Commons
which refuses to deliver Brexit.
Boris Johnson: ‘If parliament were a laptop
then the screen would be showing the
pizza wheel of doom.’
Your robot is now at the pick up point.
Please go to meet it now.
Right, now what happens?
It’s sending me messages and I …
Boris Johnson: ‘I’m fed up, myself, of being told that our country can’t do something
when I passionately believe that it can.’
It keeps sending me notifications but
how do I get the stuff out?
Boris Johnson: ‘This country has long
been a pioneer,
we inaugurated the steam age in Manchester …’
‘Pioneered ideas of free markets
that spread across the planet.’
Click here and send robot away.
Boris Johnson: ‘Now we are about
to take another giant step
to do something no one thought
we could do.’
‘To reboot our politics.’
‘To relaunch ourselves into the world and to dedicate ourselves again to the simple proposition
that we are here to serve
the democratic will of the British people.’
I’m worried about this robot now,
it seems to be stuck.
Boris Johnson: ‘Let’s get Brexit done.’
‘We can, we must and we will.’
‘We are coming out of the EU
on October the 31st come what may.’