Brexit blind dates: June Sarpong and ex-Stig Perry McCarthy
What happens when two strong-minded individuals from opposite sides of the Brexit debate sit down for dinner? To find out, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has organised a series of blind dates.
June Sarpong is a broadcaster who campaigned for Remain.
Perry McCarthy is an ex-racing driver who became the first Stig on Top Gear, and is firmly opposed to the EU.
They went into the meal without knowing who they would be meeting.
But did they get on?
Who are you? I’m June Sarpong, I’m a broadcaster and author.
What are your views on Brexit? I am a passionate Remainer – or “Remoaner” – and I absolutely believe that a modified relationship with the EU would have been the right route to take. However, I understand why people voted Brexit.
What was your initial impression of Perry? I liked him instantly because he was quite funny, and quite self-deprecating. He was very, very committed to Brexit and so it was nice to actually be around somebody who is a dedicated Brexiteer and to have it out in a respectful way.
How was your date? The date got heated in part which was good, and I have to say, credit to Perry, he was not backing down. I loved it!
Anything you didn’t enjoy? Part of our conversation symbolised what’s going on in our country at the moment, which is the sort of unwillingness to accept the other’s view. I even say that for myself, I don’t think there’s anything that Perry could have said to change my mind at all because I totally believe this is the wrong thing for the country.
Did you have any common ground? Yes, we did! In terms of how white working-class people have been completely demonised in this whole process. I agreed when he made a point about the fact that anybody that voices any concerns regarding immigration or any frustration is straight away called a racist, straight away made to feel they are somehow anti-foreigner and that’s not what it is – it’s about being concerned whether or not our public services can handle that amount of people, it’s about concerns regarding the changing demography of the country.
What was your biggest disagreement? He said that now we are leaving the EU we can go direct to our trading partners [to strike deals], but what I was trying to say was that a lot of countries who were once British colonies will now have bigger economies than ours! We can’t expect to have the same trading deal with these countries that the EU has when we’re on our own.
Did he convince you of anything? Hell no! Definitely not, but I really liked him.
Would you see him again? Yeah, of course! I wanna go racing in one of his cars!
Marks out of 10 for the date: I would give it a seven. And if we weren’t talking Brexit I’d have given it an eight – Brexit was the thing that ruined the date actually.
Find out more
Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 10:00 and 11:00 GMT on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.
And find out what happened tomorrow when Stanley Johnson, ex-Conservative MEP and father of Boris Johnson, went on a date with journalist Ella Whelan.
Who are you? Perry McCarthy, an ex-racing driver who made it to Formula One, before becoming the first Stig on Top Gear.
What are your views on Brexit? I like Europe. I love Europe. I’ve nothing against Europe. But I don’t like Brussels and I don’t like the direction that they’re going economically or politically.
What was your initial impression of June? She was highly determined and very well-informed. When she started speaking, I was listening but at the same time thinking to myself, “You’ve got to be on the ball here, sunshine, or she’s going to rip you apart”.
How was your date? I think that we certainly respected each other. We have different views but are hopefully two caring people who want the best for everybody.
What was your biggest disagreement?: About her wanting a People’s Vote [a referendum on the final Brexit deal]. I personally, for many reasons, am not in favour of that, but of course June has every right to hold that opinion.
What was the worst thing about your date?: She finished her meal much quicker than I did mine, so I was left multi-tasking, putting my argument forward and chewing at the same time.
Any awkward moments: Yes, when she first walked in, I knew I recognised her, but I just couldn’t pinpoint it from where. But after sitting down and chatting it through I felt like such an idiot because she’s been so omnipresent for many years with a stellar career.
Would you see her again? It would always be an absolute delight to see June, and see her for a drink, and have a real in-depth discussion about Formula One – because I want to make sure I win the next one!
Describe her in three words: Outstanding, inspirational talent.
Marks out of 10 for the date: Nine. Would have been 10 if she had agreed with at least some of my points!
Watch more Brexit blind dates
Find out what happened when…