I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Saturday, December 1, 2018


For some months now our wonderful leaders in London have been ordering us all to make preparations for a hard Brexit on 29 March 2019. Like an obedient Scottish subject, I did as I was told and took a look at how our little foodbank might feed the 50,000 citizens of Dumfries in the days and weeks after the Tesco shelves being stripped bare.

Aye right. We like to think we are a pretty good foodbank, but we're not geared up to plug the hunger holes once the streets are filled with tear gas and marauding mobs. Our basement would be stripped bare in half an hour flat.

Once I had done my duty as a foodbank manager in London's last colony, I turned my attention closer to home. For well over ten years I have made full use of my rights as a citizen of the European Union to tap into the single market where free movement of goods, services, money and people is very much allowed. This has meant me moving freely from Dumfries to the French/Belgian border to load up on tobacco at a third of the price it goes for in Tesco.

Basic maths make the trip a no brainer. Last week I bought 250 50g packs of tobacco for £1750. Had I bought the same here in Dumfries, it would have set me back £5750. As in a saving of £4000. The costs of my free movement? Fuel £70 and a Christmas Special Offer Channel Tunnel ticket at £25.

My long term plan? Well I guess from a Hard Brexit to an Indpendent Scotland will take five or six years, so a couple of trips will be required, hopefully before the House of Commns squabbling strips another 10% off the value of the pound.

Fair enough, it's a long drive. 900 miles in all. But it has its upsides. It provides some time to allow the brain to drift as the slow hours of the night roll by. A talking book. Playlists. A steady stream of coffee.

And a few snap shots of Brexit England.

My route took me over the Pennines from Penrith to Scotch Corner and then all the way down through the eastern heartlands of Brexit. Farage country bathed in the the light of a near full moon.

When I fled Blackburn's cancerous racism and headed north nearly thirty years ago, I never would have guessed how the signs at Gretna would come to affect me. Now when I see 'Welcome to England' I feel like I am entering a foreign land. A land I used to know once upon a time. A land I grew up in and was a part of. But not any more. Have I left England or has England left me? Who knows? I certainly don't. This feeling is nothing new when it comes to London and the south. As a born and bred Lancastrian, I never had much time for the Thatcherite heartlands of the Home Counties. As I lived out my formative years in the 70's and 80's, it was all about us and them. Us the north, them the south. And we were branded 'the enemy within'.

Back then I would never have believed I would lose my instinctive affinity for the mill towns of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire. Well, how wrong I would have been. Now as a New Scot, I watch the motorway exit signs with a sense of detachment. Blackburn, Burnley, Accrington, Halifax, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Wakefield, Wigan, Bolton. They are like a bunch of pals I was once a part of when we were in the third form at school and making a misery out of the lives of our teachers. And then? And then they went one way and I went another. I went north to become a New Scot and they stayed put and signed on the dotted line for the EDL. I chose the world according to Tommy Sheridan. They opted for Tommy Robinson. And if an invitation to a school reunion ever dropped through the letterbox, I would bin it like Troy election leaflet.

Ironically my moonlit glide through the Brexit heartlands had a soundtrack from those heady days of the 80's when the North had been loud and proud in an ultimately doomed fight against the forces of raging Thatcherism. There had been a genuine unity for a while. But her victory poisoned the well. Northerners grew weary of blaming their ills on Eton dominated boardrooms. Instead they turned on the strangers in their midst. The Pakistanis and the Poles. The others. And nobody wanted to hear what the likes of Tony Benn had to say any more. Instead they dumbed all the eay down to Tommy Robinson. And when Jo Cox was murdered in broad daylight on a West Yorkshire steet, it wasn't even surprising any more.

I crossed the Thames just after midnight and the lights of London glittered all the way to the horizon and beyond from towering heights of the Queen Elizabeth bridge. And now all the road signs led to the pin up towns of Brexit England. Thurrock and Clacton and Southend on Sea. Places where lads at the bar still wear their leave vote as a badge of some kind of bizarre honour. And what if 29 March brings chaos and empty shelves? Who gives a shit. Just so long as the bastard Poles go home. And the Pakis. And the Ragheads.

The M25 became the M20 and the tunnel was less than fifty miles away. And I entered the longest stretch of road works I have ever seen. Forty long miles of flashing '50' signs and tens of thousands of plastic bollards. The on the ground reality of building the biggest lorry park in the world in readiness for the mayhem of 29 March 2019. Making Operation Stack an every day thing.

One in the morning.

Maidstone Services. Time for a coffee and a couple of hours kip before checking in for the 6.15 crossing.

The car park was overflowing with white vans and guys in Hi Viz jackets. These were the guys tasked with getting the world's greatest lorry park ready to roll for 29 March 2019. And in the silver light of the November moon, they presented a perfect snapshot of the puffed up bullshit of Brexit England. Why? Becausre there was barely an English voice to be heard. Instead the service area echoed with the sound of voices from the plains of Central Europe. And there it was. The truly pitiful truth of the cretins in the Palace of Westminster. The reality of their Brexit dream meant borrowing money from the Chinese to pay thousands of Polish workers to build the greatest lorry park in the world. Would they be able to build their lorry park with born and bred English workmen? Not in a million years.


Fifteen or so hours later. Under the Channel and back again. A catch up with and old pal from university in a small Essex town. A storm was building. The bare trees bent in the growing gale. The high street was deserted and the gutters were on time and a half. A timbered pub with a blazing log fire. Not so many drinkers had ventured out.

My round. I tried to settle up with a Scottish twenty only to be met with a blank look from the bar maid.

"Can't take that. No Scottish money."

My mate asked why such a thing should be and she simply shrigged and said her boss had told her no Scottish.


I pulled out my TSB debit card and asked if she was OK with it, what with TSB's head office being in Edinburgh and all? This provoked a moody shrug. The card reader said yes. My pal was surprised to hear that Scottish money is getting ever harder to spend in Brexit England. Slowly but surely we are joining the ranks of the others. The Poles and the Pakistanis and the Muslims and the Refugees and the Romanians.

And the Scots.

A little after five in the afternoon the next day, I drove past the 'Welcome to Scotland' sign as the now fully fledged storm threatened to flip over high sided wagons. When I got home I switched on my computer to check messages. The day's viral video demanded my attention like a screaming child in a supermarket. A fifteen year old Syrian refugee in the playground of a Huddersfield school. Knocked to the ground and subjected to a mock waterboarding. Mocking laughter and a backdrop of grey skies. A snap shot of Brexit England. Pond life empowered by Farage's 'Breaking Point' fantasies.

Was the cold, ugly brutality of the bullying a surprise? Not in the least. It was the kind of thing which had driven us from Blackburn thirty years ago. Was it a surprise to hear Tommy Robinson had jumped all over the thing to dream up some fake news where the bullied lad was in fact a sexual predator? No. Not in the least.

Instead I was saddened to hear the city of Oxford had offered the family a place of sanctuary. I wasn't sad for the family of course. And I was delighted by Oxford's offer. It was the old Lancastrian in me which was saddened. The old Northerner. Saddened by the way the North has become a place of danger for anyone with the wrong colour of skin. A place where those at risk need to run from. A place of thickening darkness.

The dark heart of Brexit England.


  1. Great piece of writing. But really, you should give up the cigarettes. Save you that journey.

    1. Sadly I am pathetically unable to write so much as a sentence without a cigarette in hand. I gather it is a common affliction among hacks like me!

  2. As a Scots born resident of Yorkshire I recognise all of this. The casual, open xenophobia of the majority has been enabled by Brexit.

    1. Time for you to come home Brian.
      Sure we're not perfect, we have our idiots as well, but nothing on the scale which is about to hit England

  3. Nice piece of writing. It saddens me greatly how we are seeing increasingly the reality of man's inhumanity to man. And it will only get worse thanks to Brexit.

  4. Sadly disturbing! The Unravelling Kingdom (UK), is going through a very disturbing form of suicidal-like self harm! All people who love Scotland, are loved by us Ccots... wherever someone like that comes from: Scotland emraces, welcomes and loves you!

  5. I left the UK in 2001, partly because I saw he same process beginning. I ended up staying away because like you I met my wife from another country where people have a different skin colour, and she wasn't welcome in my home country. Germany was open to us though, so that's where we stayed.

  6. Mark, your blogs have made me smile, cry and feel consumed with anger. Keep writing. My husband and I would like to make a donation to First Base. Can you tell me the easiest way to do that.

  7. It is a very hard situation when playing the lottery and never won, or keep winning low fund not up to 100 bucks, i have been a victim of such a tough life, the biggest fund i have ever won was 100 bucks, and i have been playing lottery for almost 12 years now, things suddenly change the moment i came across a secret online, a testimony of a spell caster called DR EMU, who help people in any type of lottery numbers, i was not easily convinced, but i decided to give try, now i am a proud lottery winner with the help of DR EMU, i won $1,000.0000.00 and i am making this known to every one out there who have been trying all day to win the lottery, believe me this is the only way to win the lottery.

    Contact him via email:
    Call or what's app +2347012841542