Lauren Frayer | KERA News

Lauren Frayer

The town of Crawley, about 30 miles south of London, has been inhabited since Roman times. It grew substantially after World War II, absorbing people from bombed-out parts of the capital. There's a 13th century church and an old stagecoach inn that dates to 1615. The latest census figures show most of the roughly 100,000 people registered as living in Crawley are white and British-born.

But a stroll around town reveals a different picture.

Fran Beesley was still in her bathrobe early one morning in June when she emerged from her home to find a Japanese family taking photos of her flowerbeds.

She lives in a 1970s-style one-story bungalow in the rural village of Kidlington, about a 90-minute drive northwest of London. It's a quiet place. Doesn't get many visitors. Beesley is retired and cares for her invalid husband. They're both in their 70s.

He's a crazy-haired populist who was born in New York and nearly split his conservative party, but appears to have come out on top.

He's wealthy, but appeals to working-class voters. He's tough on immigration, and keen to point out President Obama's Kenyan heritage. Lots of people call him by his first name only. He once starred on TV.

He's not Donald Trump.

He's Boris Johnson, who was the mayor of London until he stepped down last month. Now he could become the United Kingdom's next prime minister.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The lush Whitehall Gardens are just a five-minute walk from Britain's Parliament and 10 Downing Street, where the prime minister lives and works. Behind the gardens, with their grand fountains and flowers, sprawls an ornate stone building, overlooking the River Thames.

This is prime London real estate.

On a drizzly spring day in rural East Anglia, north of London, Will Dickinson ducks into his centuries-old farmhouse to file some paperwork.

"The wet day has driven me inside to the office — where I hate to be!" says Dickinson. His home, Cross Farm, in Hertfordshire, has been in operation since at least the year 1086, when it was listed in the Domesday Book, a land survey of England and Wales written that year in medieval Latin.

Nicholas Winton is often referred to as "Britain's Schindler."

He was a young British stockbroker when, in December 1938, he canceled a trip to go skiing in Switzerland, and instead went to visit a friend in Prague who was helping refugees fleeing from the Nazis.

Hundreds of thousands of people whose personal fates could hinge on whether Britain leaves the European Union won't even have a vote in next month's referendum: Polish migrants. Among other EU citizens, up to a million Poles live and work in Britain. They're allowed to do so, because of free movement of workers in the EU.

In her suburban London row house, Margit Goodman, 94, sits wrapped in blankets in her favorite recliner.

She was a girl of 17 when she first came to Britain, escaping from her native Prague just before the Germans invaded. She remembers the exact date: June 5, 1939.

"When I left, [Czechoslovakia] was still a free country," she recalls. "But we soon became occupied by the Germans."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

A crazy-haired populist born in New York is splitting his conservative party ahead of a hotly contested vote. He's wealthy but appeals to working-class voters. He's keen to point out President Obama's Kenyan roots. Lots of people call him by his first name only.

And he's not Donald Trump.

On the banks of a canal in industrial east London sits Britain's oldest salmon smokehouse: H. Forman & Son.

Inside, 80 employees help fillet and salt salmon by hand, then hang the fish in giant smokers. It's the same method used by the company's founder, Harry Forman, 111 years ago.

"He was an Eastern European Jewish immigrant that fled the pogroms — he came from Ukraine — and settled in London's East End in the late 19th century," says his great-grandson Lance Forman.

When Britons vote this summer on whether to exit the European Union, one of the key battlegrounds in what's being called the 'Brexit' will be Gibraltar.

The 2.6-square-mile peninsula at Spain's southern tip is geographically part of the European continent, but has been British territory for more than 300 years. That means its citizens, United Kingdom passport holders, have the right to vote on June 23.

This week, Gibraltar hosted rival rallies by advocates for and against continued EU membership.

Every day at 2 p.m., Antonio Davila rolls the metal shutters down over the front of his computer repair shop in central Madrid. He heads home for lunch, picks up his kids at school — and then goes back to work from 5 to 9 p.m. He's originally from Peru, and says Spanish hours took some getting used to.

"The sun sets later here, and that affects people's habits," Davila says. "I open my shop around 10:30 a.m., close in the afternoon, and then stay open later at night."

In a cramped ground floor office in Madrid, Alejandro Gonzalez Raga recalls the day of his arrest in Cuba, 13 years ago.

There was a knock at the door. It was Cuban state security.

"They said, 'You are detained in the name of the people,'" he recalls. "Well that's one I'd never heard before — 'in the name of the people.' Then they took me away."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Turkey has now signed an agreement with the 28 countries of the European Union. It's an attempt to stem the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe. From Brussels, Lauren Frayer reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

European leaders gather in Brussels tomorrow to finalize a plan to push migrants and refugees back to Turkey and then resettle some of them in European Union countries. But as Lauren Frayer reports, the plan is facing fierce opposition across the continent.

As hundreds of thousands of Arab and African migrants arrive in Europe, Spanish lawmakers meet to discuss the continent's crisis — and all eyes are on one woman. She's the only national politician whose skin is the same color as many of the African migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Spain. But she made a different journey from Africa.

"I was born in Equatorial Guinea when it was a Spanish colony," explains Rita Bosaho, Spain's first black member of parliament. "My parents died when I was very young, and I came to live with a foster family in Spain."

In an interview, Syrian President Bashar Assad accused more than 80 countries of supporting terrorists in Syria, and he said he wants to go down in history as "the one who saved his country."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Last September, Miguel Ángel Galán was busy in his office south of Madrid when he happened to glance up at a TV on in the background.

Pages