A JAPANESE film crew from Tokyo was in Cumbria to study the legendary creature known as the ‘Workington Man’.

Broadcast journalist Keiko Tanaka is speaking to people across the UK for a current affairs programme looking at the impact of Brexit, as the electorate prepare to go to the polls.

The town fell under the international spotlight earlier this year after a London-based think tank claimed the so-called ‘Workington Man’ – controversially defined as “an older, white, non-graduate voter living in rugby league towns in the north” – was the key to the election.

Since then, media organisations from Holland, Sweden and Italy have descended on the area or requested interviews, but none from as far afield as Japan, until now.

“The whole world is watching this General Election – because it’s the Brexit election, and the interest of the world is very high,” Ms Tanaka told three west Cumbrian men in The Briery in Stainburn.

Grant Payne, who used to run the hotel, Dave Bowden, former chairman of Workington Town, and Mike Walker, managing director of a local firm, had all agreed in advance to speak to Japan’s answer to the BBC.

“There may be worldwide interest in Brexit,” Mr Bowden told the interviewer, “but we in Britain are all sick of it.”

The Briery was selected for the filming after the Far East news team “collared” publican Mr Payne as he emerged from a town centre bank.

The 74-year-old from Seaton retired from running The Briery three years ago and came back to serve behind the bar.

He said: “They read about Workington Man in a national newspaper and when they approached me outside HSBC, I thought it was a practical joke.

“I have played some good ‘uns on other people.”

Mr Bowden did not vote in the 2016 referendum because he did not feel at the time the decision would affect his life.

He admits he had been more sympathetic to Remain but wanted to support the majority once the decision had been made.

He told Ms Tanaka the Workington Man stereotype “doesn’t exist”, describing him as a “figment and a fiction” dreamed up by southerners and journalists.

The film crew was told there were various reasons why people in the area had voted to leave – from preventing NHS ‘health tourism’ and gaining more control over the nation’s borders, to re-claiming sovereignty from Brussels’ bureaucrats.

Leaver Mr Walker added: “I wanted to get out of the European Parliament – a lot of its decisions didn’t go our way.”

But the 65-year-old, who employs foreign workers from the EU, said he didn’t believe Brexit would affect freedom of movement.

“I still don’t,” he said.

The visitors from the Far East were also told the delay was fuelling anger and division across Britain.

They also learned of people’s concerns that other important issues such as the NHS could not receive the attention they deserved while politicians were so focused on Brexit.