I have recently moved out of London, and am now living in the north-east. Watching the parliamentary and political game played from a distance puts Brexit into a different context. You see clearly that the whole Brexit debate is about that one square mile of space around Westminster, and that it is eating up the country, starving it of air and hope.

I have undertaken ethnographic research over the last 15 years in Nottingham, Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, and in east London – always with working-class people, focusing on how they experience community, politics, and class position. I believe now more than ever that working-class voices, experience and communities are being ‘gentrified’. The political commentariat  talk and talk and talk – whether physically around Westminster, or through Twitter – while the BBC sporadically ventures into the ‘dark lands’ beyond that square mile to places like Southend, Middlesbrough, and Ashfield to find endless 20-second vox pops of working-class people declaring they ‘just want out’ and they are sick to death of the politicking. Both sides of the Brexit argument claim to know what’s best for the British working class, and worst of all they believe they can speak for them.

Over the summer, when I should have been writing, I got in contact with some of the participants in my previous research in Nottinghamshire and in east London, some of whom I first spoke to 15 years ago. I am interested to know what they think about the situation, and in particular how they are watching the Westminster spectacle through their own social lens. Talking to people is an important tool for sociologists. Politicians might learn something from us if they were prepared to stop shouting at each other and listen.