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Shakespeare's birthplace mirrors a scepter'd isle riven by Brexit discontent

Updated : 2019-03-26 12:10:13

In William Shakespeare's ancient birthplace, discontent over Brexit runs even deeper than three years ago when this "scepter'd isle" shocked the world by voting to leave the European Union.

The 2016 referendum revealed a United Kingdom divided over much more than EU membership, and has sparked impassioned debate about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, empire and what it means to be British.

Just days before the United Kingdom was originally supposed to leave the EU on March 29, nothing is resolved: it remains uncertain how, when or if it ever will.

Brexit, and the future of the kingdom, is in play.

In Stratford-upon-Avon, which voted in line with the national 52-48 decision to leave, both Brexiteers and Remainers are aghast at what they said was the national humiliation of Prime Minister Theresa May's collapsing exit negotiations.

With its Anglo-Saxon heritage, black-and-white Tudor houses, understated wealth and lucrative Shakespeare tourist business, Stratford is as typically English as a town gets.

But under the gilded surface, both sides of the Brexit divide have ominous warnings for the politicians in London: Dash our dreams and face a much deeper fissure that will bleed the United Kingdom for generations to come.

A sign with the image of writer William Shakespeare hangs from Stratford Guildhall in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
A sign with the image of writer William Shakespeare hangs from Stratford Guildhall in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
A sign with the image of writer William Shakespeare hangs from Stratford Guildhall in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
A sign with the image of writer William Shakespeare hangs from Stratford Guildhall in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Brexit supporter Molly Giles poses for a photograph in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Brexit supporter Molly Giles poses for a photograph in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Brexit supporter Edward Fila poses for a photograph in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Brexit supporter Edward Fila poses for a photograph in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Anti-Brexit campaigner and member of
Anti-Brexit campaigner and member of "Stratford 4 Europe" Sophie Clausen, poses for a photograph in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Members of the
Members of the "Stratford 4 Europe" pose for a photograph in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Anti-Brexit campaigner and member of
Anti-Brexit campaigner and member of "Stratford 4 Europe", Jonathan Baker, walks through Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Visitors walk past a statue of writer William Shakespeare in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Visitors walk past a statue of writer William Shakespeare in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Visitors sit on a bench attached to a statue of writer William Shakespeare in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Visitors sit on a bench attached to a statue of writer William Shakespeare in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
The Royal Shakespeare Company's theatre complex is seen beyond the foot-bridge in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
The Royal Shakespeare Company's theatre complex is seen beyond the foot-bridge in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Visitors walk across the footbridge leading to the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Visitors walk across the footbridge leading to the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Visitors and shoppers walk along Sheep street in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
Visitors and shoppers walk along Sheep street in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
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