The extraordinary story of James, from Yorkshire and the Humber, who used to be a far-right and Brexit supporter until his life came together, and he completely changed his mind. A Remainer Now, he wants a final say to put things right once and for all.

First published in November 2019.

In January 2016, I joined Britain First. I was in a very bad state of mind. I had just finished school 18 months earlier, where I had been bullied for 5 years. It had left me feeling angry and I wanted a method to take out my anger.

Their message was appealing because they seemed very anti-authority, which after years of my bullying being ignored at school seemed quite attractive. So, I applied on their website and the next thing you know I was in Dewsbury, holding an English flag and chanting away. I was a hardcore far-right supporter.

Over time, as I started to get to know their leaders, I realised that they were just in it for the money. I still carried on at first because I found it to be an avenue of letting out the anger I had been holding back for years.

One of them acted like she was my mum in a way, always taking time to talk to me and making me feel like I was doing the right thing and she made me feel like I was in a big family.

But as time went on, my life got better. I got a job, I passed my driving test, I no longer felt angry and my views, though still right wing, slowly became less extreme. By August 2017, I had come to the decision I wanted to leave, but I felt sad as Britain First were family.

I was no longer a racist, so their speeches no longer had any effect on me. I also heard stories of alleged threats against ex-members, which had me deeply concerned.

Then, a new member accused me of being an infiltrator after an event in Wolverhampton where Stand Up To Racism turned up to oppose us, but I didn’t get involved. The new member put 2 and 2 together and got 5. He started threatening me. When I asked the leader to remove him, he refused. So, I quit.

I can remember walking around the room before sending the message. Britain First were family to me, and I was still slightly brainwashed, but I sent the message anyway.

This is when I started thinking about all the things I had done with Britain First and it felt so wrong that I felt nothing but guilt for quite some time.

Just after I left Britain First I looked at other groups and realised that they were all the same. Over the next year or so I looked into politics a bit more.

I became a Remainer after a discussion with Femi outside Parliament one day, where he totally destroyed my reasoning for Voting Leave. It got me thinking. And I found out that £1 in 2016 is worth approximatively 73p today, and all the benefits that we would lose by leaving the EU, and it changed my mind. I started developing my own views and I pretty much u-turned on all of my right-wing and racist views since.

I am now very proud to be a member of Stand Up To Racism and proud to be a #RemainerNow as well.

I honestly cannot put into words how happy I am with the response I have been getting for coming out as a #RemainerNow, and I do hope my story goes on to inspire others to follow in the same steps.

What I would like to say to anybody out there who might be scared about coming out like me: Don’t be scared! Get it off your chest today!

This is my story in a nutshell. It wasn’t an easy journey, but I am doing my best to make things right now, and I plan on dedicating as much of my time as possible to opposing the far-right and stopping Brexit.

On Election Week I am planning on going down to Parliament to protest for Remain. Last time I was there I was pro-Brexit. I am now looking forward to standing outside the most important building in the country to demand that I and other #RemainerNow get a chance to put things right.🔷

By James.

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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 24 November 2019, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/ChiralJon. - Brexit demonstrators near the Houses of Parliament, London. | 29 Jan 2019. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)