Emma, 46, Hove
Occupation Sales operations specialist
Voting record Labour all the way; once considered voting Green but decided against it for tactical reasons. Voted remain in the EU referendum
Amuse bouche The Chemical Brothers once offered her a lift home after a night at the Ministry of Sound in London
Louise, 34, Sussex
Occupation International development for a non-profit organisation
Voting record A floating voter who would back any candidate if she was persuaded of their leadership ability and policies. Voted leave in the EU referendum
Amuse bouche Studied trapeze while at UC Berkeley
Louise We arrived at the same time, 15 minutes early. We’re not dissimilar to look at – we’re quite short and quite petite. She had an impression of me that I didn’t live up to. In a good way.
Emma We shared a selection of dips and kalamata olives. Then I had a roasted tomato and lentil salad. It was one of those meals where rocket’s coming out of your mouth. She was quite a posh, dainty young lady and I was spraying her with salad.
Louise I had some kind of aubergine, Asian dish. It was delicious. My objective was to show that you could have dinner with someone who was – quote unquote – a Tory and voted Brexit, and they weren’t the worst person on earth.
Emma I thought she was lovely, but I feel like she lives in a naive bubble. A tiny little village, surrounded by similar people, all wealthy. I wonder if she doesn’t see the impact of what Brexit has done to people.
The big beef
Louise My main point is that people are massively pro- or massively anti-Boris, and there’s no space in the middle. I object to him being compared to Trump.
Emma I nearly laughed out loud at the Boris Johnson conversation. She said Johnson was a go-getter who gets things done. I said, “Tell me one thing that Boris has achieved.” She mentioned something about national insurance raises, but didn’t justify why that was a serious achievement, or indeed, any achievement.
Louise I’m not sure that NI was the right way to raise the tax. I don’t think it’s a terrible idea; it’s a broad-based tax. But his leadership around Brexit was good and important. The things we feared – millions of job losses, the hit to the economy itself – these have not materialised. There are friction costs, the challenges to small businesses of exporting to Europe, the red tape, the queues; these are fair concerns. The question is, are they greater than the sovereignty issue?
Emma Anyone who’s got here and doesn’t realise that everything that comes out of that man’s mouth is a lie – what can you say? If we’d started listing the ways in which he’s untrustworthy, we never would have concluded that conversation.
Louise We both have personal experience of trans issues, and we landed in a not too dissimilar position.
Emma We talked about self-identification, and what some people see as the potential danger to women. My feeling is that we’re actually not talking about trans people being a danger to women – it’s just men, isn’t it? It’s this obsession with the evil penis that gets people worried, but trans people are more marginalised and likely to be in danger from the same men who are a threat to women.
Louise I’m intrigued by what she said about tomboys – that a girl who was a tomboy would choose another label. I was saying: what is society saying about what it is to be a girl that is making her feel like that?
Emma Where we fell down was on mask wearing. She’s a bit worried that we will end up being like a far eastern country where people wear masks just to leave the house.
Louise There are lots of questions around whether they’re needed with a vaccinated population. I don’t think they’re cost-free, which I think she agreed with.
Emma If anything good has come out of Covid, I hope it’s a more responsible attitude to other people’s health.
Louise It felt like we agreed on quite a lot. She may have been thinking, “She’s talking a load of rubbish.”
Emma I feel I just talked at her. I don’t think either of us changed our opinions, but we found unexpected common ground.
Additional reporting: Naomi Larsson
Emma and Louise ate at Terre à Terre in Brighton
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