The EU referendum split the country almost straight down the middle and with article 50 now triggered, the divisions are as clear as ever. One Frant entrepreneur discovered himself on the losing side. But instead of ‘remoaning’, Peter Lamb has found a more proactive way of expressing his regret over the result
WHEN life gives you lemons, make some lemonade. That was Peter Lamb’s philosophy when he woke up June 24 to discover a slim majority of people in Great Britain had voted to leave the EU and discovered his world had been turned upside down.
A vehement supporter of the EU, Mr Lamb was shocked by the result. But the owner of Lamb’s Larder next to Frant Station has an entrepreneurial streak.
Within two days, the 55-year-old father of three had designed and begun to manufacture polo shirts embroidered with the words ‘48 per cent’ and the stars of the European flag. The figure represents the proportion of people who voted Remain; 52 voted Leave.
Since then he has sold around 2,500 articles of clothing. The range was soon expanded to include jackets, beanie hats, scarfs and hoodies.
“It was quite a kneejerk reaction to the result of the vote, but I set up the clothing business as a way to make some money out of what I think is a bad thing.
“As stupid as it sounds, I also found the process of designing and then selling the clothing therapeutic as I needed a way to vent my anger.
“Each one I sold made me feel like was giving Boris Jonson a good kicking. It is my way of fighting back.”
Many of his items of clothing have actually been bought by individuals oversees, while a large amount are also being purchased by Londoners, and on occasion ‘the odd passer-by’.
When talking to Mr Lamb it is hard not to notice a strong Australian accent, which may lead some to wonder why he is bothered by the result.
But the shop owner and his family have been permanent residents for 11 years and, as a dual citizen Mr Lamb himself has travelled between his native Tasmania to the UK since 1980.
What Mr Lamb finds particularly distressing was the whole reason why he moved to the UK was because he wanted to be around ‘European values’.
“We moved because we wanted to be part of Europe. If I was a native French speaker I may have ended up in France.
“I did not move here with the intention of ever leaving though. I have opened a business, I employ local people and two of my three children go to private school so I am hardly a drain on the state.”
He now fears the UK is heading for an economically disastrous Brexit and the only beneficiaries will be the well off.
“If May goes ahead with the plan for a very low tax economy it will be the man on the street who will suffer. The poor will be hurt greatly and the rich will benefit greatly”.
Depending on visa arrangements, Mr Lamb how now resigned himself to leaving his adopted country and move to the continent when his children leave school within the next ‘three to five years’.
He believes France will be a good fit for his family and would only consider returning to Australia as ‘a last resort’.
“People wonder why I don’t want to return as everyone thinks it’s such a fantastic place but its quite introspective, mainly because it is so isolated.”
However, five years is a long time and perhaps Mr Lamb’s worst fears will fail to materialise, in which case will he change his mind?
“I could change my mind I admit. But at the moment I cannot see any benefits of Brexit at all.”