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Dining across the divide: ‘He doesn’t like “the man”, anyone above, making decisions for him’

<span>Lior and Darren. All photographs: Andrew Hasson/The Guardian</span><span>Photograph: Andrew Hasson/The Guardian</span>
Lior and Darren. All photographs: Andrew Hasson/The GuardianPhotograph: Andrew Hasson/The Guardian

Lior, 45, Brighton

Occupation Consultant, author, artist, coach

Voting record Is not eligible to vote in the UK; in Germany, voted Green or SPD (broadly equivalent to the Labour party)

Amuse bouche Trained as a war zone correspondent with the German army. They have a mock sniper village and blow up ditches so trainees know what that feels like

Darren, 53, Lancing, West Sussex

Occupation Unemployed

Voting record Has “never voted for the Monster Raving Loony party or Lib Dem”. Otherwise, quite a lot of ways

Amuse bouche Used to keep koi, and hand-feed them prawns, “which feels a bit weird”

For starters

Darren The food was lovely: strangely enough, as much as we were very different, our food choices were the same. We started with beef carpaccio.

Lior I think he was really surprised I wasn’t a vegetarian. He was mentally placing me in the tofu corner.

Darren I didn’t know what to expect; everyone’s a nomad in Brighton – that’s one of the things I love about it.

Lior He was gentler than I imagined. His positions were really quite punchy. I imagined him to be punchy as well.

The big beef

Darren We couldn’t agree on Brexit: Lior is very pro-European. I said I didn’t like the way leavers were all made to look like racists. I’ve got no issue with immigration, and I don’t think 99% of those who voted leave did. They might have a problem with the boat people coming over every day, but Brexit was about who rules our country.

Related:Dining across the divide: ‘He came with a list, papers, diagrams. I think he’s confused’

Lior He said he didn’t like decisions that applied to this country being made elsewhere, and he was worried about EU overreach. Some of what he said was factually not correct. I had to explain how the euro and the pound were completely separate currencies. He doesn’t like “the man”, anyone above, making decisions for him.

Darren Our parents and grandparents who joined the Common Market did it for trade, not to be governed. I tried to explain that’s why I wanted out, and since coming out, the government has made it more difficult than it should have been. We’re the United Kingdom: we can get whatever deal we want.

Lior I think Brexit was a mistake. Complex bodies are always a bit messy in terms of bureaucracy, but the EU is achieving what it set out to do. A lot of countries in Europe have been at each other’s throats for millennia. And that seems to have quietened down.

Sharing plate

Lior It wouldn’t have come up naturally, but I thought I should tell him I go by they/them pronouns. That was all new to him. I did not expect that. He was super sweet, but existentially confused.

Darren I’m none the wiser. I don’t understand it. I completely don’t get it. Maybe I’m refusing to. Maybe because I’m older and I’m a bit more stubborn. But I can’t wrap my head round it.

Lior We had to unpick the entire thing: biological sex versus how you identify, how you express that, who are you attracted to? The whole alphabet soup. His stance was really: let people be who they are and do what they want. That felt perfectly genuine.

Darren I get really frustrated when someone just closes up and says: “No, this is the only way. You are 100% wrong, I’m 100% right.”

For afters

Darren There was fighting in Ukraine before Putin got involved. Over the years, countries have joined Europe and Nato has quickly followed up by putting its tanks and missiles in those countries, so the border with Russia has got closer and closer. It’s been us provoking them for many years.

Lior He said Putin was provoked. I said: “No, none of the ex-Soviet states joined the EU, and they were in Europe all along.” My stance is that Putin might well have felt provoked, but he has no business being outside his own country. And it’s questionable what he’s doing in his own country, to his own population.

Takeaways

Darren The end’s the best: everything was really pleasant. She was laughing – sorry, they were laughing. I was laughing. Then I brought up Covid, and we were never going to agree. We just left it at that and walked off.

Lior He thinks the government is hiding excess deaths because of the vaccine, and said I should look up the statistics. I was like: “You know what, that’s not a conversation.” I literally just stopped it and walked away.

Additional reporting: Kitty Drake

• Darren and Lior ate at Tutto in Brighton

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