With the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier this week telling the UK to start ‘negotiating seriously’ and to ‘get serious’, are the cracks in the Leave campaign of what Brexit was supposed to be opening up? Will the electorate get the Brexit the ‘Leave’ campaign promised? ‘No’ is the simple answer.
During the 2016 EU Referendum the ‘Leave’ team led a campaign based on immigration and a campaign that in the end was never really about the EU. It was based around dividing people and scapegoating immigrants, at a time just after the media had claimed that Europe was going to be swamped by migrants from war-torn countries in the Middle East. People were scared and the ‘Leave’ campaign did there best to tap into that fear of ‘the other’.
Right now, the promises of the ‘Leave’ campaign are in tatters.
The first major promise that was made and used throughout the entire campaign by the likes of Tory Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove was the infamous ‘£350 million for the NHS’ that the EU takes every week.
This figure was quickly disputed, experts quickly realised that, at most, Britain sends only £161 million a week, and for all the benefits we get from the EU, it is worth it. That is when you take away payments made to help British businesses, research centres and universities. This figure was first claimed by Labour MP and co-chair of Vote Leave Gisela Stuart. She said “Every week, we send £350m to Brussels. I’d rather that we control how to spend that money, and if I had that control I would spend it on the NHS”.
Though as soon as the vote was over and Leave won Nigel Farage came out and said that the major promise the Leave campaign based there arguement around was not true. He went on Good Morning Britain and said “No, I can’t and I would never have made that claim.”
Now, I know that Farage was not part of the official ‘Vote Leave’ campaign (because he was too toxic for them), but he never denied that claim during the campaign. Using it to continue to demonise migrants and blame EU migrants for the problems in public services like the NHS, even though he is a man in favour of privatising them all.
One of the main claims made by Tory MP Michael Gove was that Turkey, a country with a population of 78 million, was about to join the EU. Gove came out and claimed that Europe’s migration policy was becoming an all out “free for all”, arguing that Europe was going to open its doors to not just Turkey, but also Montenegro, Serbia and Albania. David Cameron, one of the main faces of the ‘Remain’ side said that Turkey was unlikely to join the EU before the year 3000, but being a figure of a hated ‘Establishment’ many just dismissed the claim. The fact that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then came out and said that he would hold a referendum on whether Turkey should continue with its application of becoming a EU member state did not help the ‘Remain’ side.
“We can stand up and ask the people just like the British are doing.” — Turkish President Erdogan on Turkey’s potential membership of the EU.
Finally their main promise, which many believe swung the referendum result was that immigration would be completely cut. But this was an issue that even divided the Leave side. Immigration was a hot topic leading up to the vote with the Tories continuing to fail with limiting net migration to under 100,000, with net migration on the 26 May reaching 330,000. “What would happen if we continued with the levels of immigration we have into this country?” the media and politicians asked.
On one side you had people like Tory MEP Daniel Hannan who went on Newsnight and said that the “free movement of workers to and from the UK should continue to ensure Britain remained within the single market”. This was considered by more ardent Brexiteers as the ‘Establishments’ way of trying to sabotage Brexit.
On the other side you had hardcore Brexiteers like Nigel Farage saying that Britain had to pull completely out of the EU, meaning the end of the ‘Free Movement of People’. He said that UKIP’s immigration policy of 50,000 a year was going to be dropped in favour of what he called “normal levels” of immigration. This means levels between the 1950s and the 1990s, at a time when more people left than came to Britain. Then Farage came out with his offensive ‘Breaking Point’ poster that was used as an excuse by him to demonise immigrants. Result: many pollsters like Ipos Mori found that immigration, not the economy, was a bigger factor in people’s vote within the final 2 weeks of the campaign.
Brexit has divided families and turned people against each other. It has sent the UK’s future into uncertainty, the pound is at an all time low and business confidence in Britain is as low as it has ever been.
Days after the vote, incidents involving xenophobic abuses had risen by about 57%. Abuse mostly against EU migrants. People who pay their taxes, take less benefits than British citizens and are the reason why the NHS has not collapsed as the Tories continue to destroy it through cuts and privatisation. They work as Nurses, Doctors, Cleaners, Teachers and do other jobs that keep this country running every day. This vote has developed a very unfortunate ‘little englander’ mentality in large parts of the country.
I would like to see a Brexit where we stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, though we would have to keep the Free Movement of People and probably still have to accept some European Jurisdiction (but really only over things like Environmental laws and Workers rights). Then, we hold a second democratic referendum, a choice between either the deal that is on the table for leaving, or the choice to remain as the 28th member state of the EU. It means that we will have a true idea of what Brexit Britain will look like.
In my opinion the only reason why the Brexiteers don’t want another referendum is that they know that by 2019 the devastating consequences of Brexit will have been seen and people will vote against leaving.
The EU does need major reform. It is not as democratic as some feel. Even Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Finance Minister who left his post after disputes with the EU, said that Britain must remain in the EU. This is because, in the end, the only people who win out of a Brexit-like situation are the ultra-nationalists, the racists and the xenophobes. And history has told us we must never go back to that.
If we stay in the EU, things will not go back to the way they were before. People have used the Brexit vote as a cry against the political elite and the establishment, and the political system knows that. Things have got to change, and people have got to take the power back (non-violently of course).
Article submitted by Ted James. Do you have something to submit? Send us an email: email@example.com