The Atlantic

Even in Parts of England That Rely on the EU, European Elections Are a Circus

The focus during the campaign in the pro-Brexit South West is on the zany candidates, not the issues.  
Source: Geoff Caddick / AFP / Getty

BATH, England—In the run-up to the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union, people living in England’s South West had more at stake than most. Even though their region benefits from significant EU funds for development, many of them were pro-Brexit. Three years on, as the country votes in elections for the European Parliament, the EU’s legislative chamber, little has changed.

In some ways, this area serves as a microcosm for the way Brexit has been approached across Britain. The focus has been on colorful figures and their hyperbolic rhetoric rather than the mechanism by which Britain will exit the EU, or indeed what the costs and benefits will be.

The South West conjures picture-postcard images—its sandy beaches and bucolic countryside make it a playground for well-heeled vacationers. The reality can be different. Particularly

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