The majority of Central Bedfordshire residents voted for the UK to leave the European Union to the delight of Luton and Dunstable’s Vote Leave group.
The Brexit campaigners stayed up through the night at Central Beds Council’s Chicksands headquarters and were rewarded for their patience by 5am on Friday when the district and the UK-wide vote went the way they’d hoped.
In total across Central Beds 89,134 residents (56 per cent) voted to leave the EU in Thursday’s referendum, while 69,670 (44 per cent) voted to remain. The turnout was 78 per cent.
John Gurney, Vote Leave co-ordinator for Luton and Dunstable was delighted with the result.
He said: “From the very outset, it was clear in Dunstable that the vast majority of residents wanted to vote Leave.
“So strong was the feeling, and so few were any supporters of the other side, that we actually stopped campaigning there in April and just continued to leaflet the whole town.
“This show of support has simply increased as we have gone around Luton and South Bedfordshire; setting up our street stall on a Saturday morning; leafleting whole villages or wards and receiving such wonderful support of the majority of passing vehicles with a thumbs up, a blast on their horn, or a wave.
“Indeed, I would go far as to say that out on the streets these past couple of months, it’s often felt more like a festival as the vast majority of passersby have been so happy to see us.
“A few, a sad very few individuals, have waved and given us alternative hand gestures as they drove past but they will always in the minority.
“Many of the new friends I’ve made are not members of any political party or group but simply wanted to make a difference and make this great country of ours change for the better.”
Andrew Selous MP, who campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said he had no regrets the government held a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, despite the result. He said: “Even though I worry about the future it was the right think to have the referendum. The UK shouldn’t give away its powers without the agreement of the people, I fully respect the will of the people.”
Mr Selous added his hope that the UK will be able to unite after what has been a historic vote.
He said: “It has been a divisive campaign that I have not enjoyed.
“It has split families and parties and I think there is a need for people to respect each other whichever way we voted.
“I think the country can come back together and put its shoulder behind the wheel to keep the economy moving.”
Beds MEP Richard Howitt said he had to “respect the result and must commit to its outcome”.
He added: “I am concerned that the economic consequences of leaving the EU will prove to be fact not fear.”