Brexit aftermath and broken promises
At this point it would be an understatement to think that the Brexit vote in the U.K is a huge moment of truth for all Western democracies. I still maintain trying to solve a complex question regarding E.U membership with a simplistic referendum was a very bad idea.
The counter to that the idea that “the people have spoken”. On the contrary I think they have been manipulated by politicians on all sides. The people who have supposedly won still seem stunned and unsure how to proceed. Its not surprising that voters are in shock. Denial, regret and shock are the first stages of grief after all.
Alan Travis points out in The leave campaign made three key promises – are they keeping them?
That 3 key promises of freeing up funds (up to £350m) for local NHS spending, curbing immigration and fear mongering over Turkey joining the E.C are all very unlikely to eventuate.
1. Funds – The 350m figure doesn’t include a £74m a week UK rebate which reduces the top number.
“That £276m figure includes £115m spent on things such as support for farmers, aid payments to British regions and research by UK universities and companies. If those payments continue – and there have been immediate demands from, for example, Cornwall, that they must – then at the very most it would leave £161m to be diverted to the NHS.”
2. Immigration – Leave campaigners were careful not to commit to lower immigration in any specific terms but they clearly benefitted from suggestions it would drop from 333,000 into very low number.
“Ipsos Mori found that immigration rather than the economy was the main concern of voters in the last two weeks of the campaign.”
3. Fear mongering over likelihood of Turkey and others joing E.C in short term pressuring immigration even more.
‘Five million more migrants could enter Britain by 2030 if Turkey and four other applicant countries join the EU’
As others have pointed out – if the 3 big messages from the Leave campaign had been part of a say a company prospectus – people would have been very concerned to find out that none of the implied promises thrown up by the campaign process will be addressed or solved at all any time soon.
Paul Mason says “The global order is dying. But it’s an illusion to think Britain can survive without the EU” There are massive challenges coming up.
It has only the promise it has made itself: that lots of countries in the world will do swift bilateral trade deals and that – somehow – Britain will end up more global, more outward-facing, than when it had a mere 500 million people to sell to.
This is an illusion. It will not happen. And in their hearts, many of those who voted for Brexit do not want it to happen. Talk to them: they want less free markets, less migration and less open trade.
Of course there were other contributing factors to the voting process. I’m pretty sure that all larges scale votes like this have an element of voting against the government by way of protest. It has been pointed out by others that even voters in areas such as Wales who have benefitted massively from E.C funding in their area have voted against the E.C.
“In Ebbw Vale, with little immigration and perhaps more EU investment than any other UK small town, the sense of injustice is greater than the sum of the facts.”
“What’s the EU ever done for us?” Zak Kelly, 21, asks me this standing next to a brand new complex of buildings and facilities that wouldn’t look out of place in Canary Wharf. It’s not Canary Wharf, though, it’s Ebbw Vale, a former steel town of 18,000 people in the heart of the Welsh valleys, where 62% of the population – the highest proportion in Wales – voted Leave.
To go there – along a new dual carriageway – and stand next to the town’s new sixth form and training college, a glass and steel architectural showpiece next to its new leisure centre, a few hundred yards away from a new train station, is to stare into the abyss of the UK’s failed Remain campaign.
Even Kelly, who has just finished a training session on a brand new football pitch, backtracks slightly after asking that question. “Well, I know … they built all this,” he says, and motions his head at the impressive facilities that are all around us. “But we put in more money than we get out, don’t we?”
Actually no. There is no doubt that out in the country side there are many towns with high unemployment and for whom even massive funding from the E.U back into their neighbourhoods hasn’t been persuasive. It is almost like those voters feel so bad that they are voting against the whole political system and in many ways that is true.
When a campaign is so misleading and there are so many nuances to a complex situation such as Brexit there is no way that a simple referendum can solve such a complex question. Ironically in politics it seems that lying is O.K and when the process is so fickle there is no easy way to get a fair democratic result.
I hope the U.K sorts this out and comes up with a fairer and more equitable situation with regards to the E.C. There is no doubt that improvements are needed. It may be that the shock of this result will create a greater sense of urgency to improve equality and equity with regards to the changes needed. Let us hope so.
P.S As one wag noted after reading the Wales story – What has the E.C done for us – is very close to the classical “What have the Romans done for us?” Monty Python piece. Sometimes you have to look on the bright side.
3o June update: On a more serious note. No one should be complacent that the E.U is brilliant – it’s just that when changing big things – one needs to get the little things right and manage the transition to minimise the pain.
For an alternative critique of UK & the EU read this article linked below. Not an easy read. At this point there have already been a few surprises in week 1 of post Brexit and there will be more.
Regardless of who ends up leading the UK it seems clear that the political ecosystems need to be completely rebuilt as neither the left nor the right have any answers at this point.
The Left and the EU: Why Cling to This Reactionary Institution?by JOSEPH RICHARDSON