Fiddling While Rome Burns? What It’s Like To Be At Glastonbury While The UK Decides Its Future In Europe

There’s a case to be made for Glastonbury being the best place to be on the night of the EU referendum vote. After all, what is Glasto but a great unifying phenomenon, and what has this referendum been besides a dividing one?

Driving through the festival’s neighbouring towns, however, it’s clear that passions are running as high in Somerset as they are everywhere else in the country; the Eavises’ pro-Remain stance has even led one local Leaver to put up signs saying ‘Glasto = Blood Money’ and ‘Please God Make It Rain’.

Inside the festival itself, Glastonbury’s green and pleasant(ish) lands seem as oblivious as ever to the goings-on of the outside world: there’s no banner-waving, badge-wearing or overt campaigning for either side. In fact, it almost feels as if nothing’s happening in the outside world. Does anyone actually give a monkey’s whether or not we wake up tomorrow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson?


Yes they do, as it happens.

“At the moment, I’ve had a few beers and I haven’t been thinking about it, but before I came here, I made sure I postal-voted to stay in,” says Steve Hodges, 22, from Worthing. “Because I’m young, if the country goes into recession or anything like that, it’s going to affect my future the most – that’s why I’m staying in.”

“I’ve already voted to stay in,” says Matt Evans, 22, from Wales. “I’ll be disappointed if we leave tomorrow, because economists have said there might be a fiscal crash if we leave Europe. I’ve thought a lot about it, because the Out campaign are basically saying, ‘We’ll handle everything ourselves’, but British ego gets involved, and it gets ahead of our resolve. We should be asking ‘Can we handle this?’ I love being British, I love being Welsh, I love being for my country, but if the country can’t do as well as we could in the EU – for my sons and daughters, if I ever have them – I don’t want to put it at risk.”

Read more: NME readers back Remain vote

Despite fears about polling-day clashing with the commencement of Glastonbury, everyone NME spoke to had already voted by post – and all of them to Remain. Would their weekend be ruined by a Leave vote?

“I’d feel a bit gutted,” admits Anna, 23, from Norfolk. “I would feel a bit lost. With Leave, we don’t know what could happen, whereas with Remain, we’re already there. So much is going to change, I think.”

“If you’re part of something, you work to change it, to make it better, you don’t just quit and leave,” says Jenny, 22, from Kent. “We’ll see what people decide, but as recent graduates, who are probably going to go back into uni, for me it’s really important that we remain in the EU, because of research funding . When you see the the number of leaders and experts in their fields who say we should Remain, how can people still think we should Leave? Are you just turning a blind eye to all that? I don’t understand it. Either way, I’m going to be drinking a lot.”


Amen. Even the neon-faced man who forcibly bearhugged me by the Silver Hayes area can agree on that.

“I’ve voted to Remain, by postal vote,” confirms Colin McLachlan, 38, from Ireland. “The referendum has been on my mind a lot this weekend, and I had a good chat about it with everyone I’ve been camping with.”

Will a Leave vote ruin the weekend?

“Don’t give a shit, mate! Ireland has to deal with England, and we’re fucking safe.”

That’s that, then.