You’ve now heard the results: Britain has decided to leave the European Union after a 40-year alliance setting back years of progress and integration.
The majority of voters in London voted to leave Europe, in stark contrast to voters in Scotland, who voted by a majority of 68% to remain in…
What does this mean for the future of the United Kingdom? Right now, we don’t have a new government to lead a post EU-break-up Britain. After the result was confirmed on Friday, David Cameron swiftly announced his resignation as Prime Minister, as many suggested he would.
Why did so many people vote to leave, in spite of all the warnings from politicians, economists and lawyers? Here’s what I take away from this referendum: people felt sick of being told how to think, how there was only one way they should vote in the referendum. All the arguments were negative, in that they warned of the dangers of leaving the EU, rather than emphasising all of the positives that come from membership.
A far more significant reason for the result has been the 3.5 million EU residents living in the UK. That’s the highest number of foreign residents at any time. As a small country, there is a sense that we can only take in a certain numbers of immigrants before things are unbearably stretched. You only have to look at London, with its transport system bursting at the seams , overcrowded schools and NHS waiting lists. It might not be fair to blame the migrants directly.
Of course there have been many benefits from migration, but if you’re a business man, you gain much more from cheap labour than a UK worker who sees stagnant wages and little chance of ever earning a decent living.
For me the tipping point was when the EU relaxed laws of free movement from former communist countries Romania and Bulgaria. We saw thousands coming in to the UK in a short space of time. These were people with no skills to offer, yet they were coming into England with exactly the same rights as UK citizens.
For immigration to work, there has to be a benefit both for local people and the immigrants. For example, I live in an area which has the largest community of Koreans in Europe. You can see the benefits straight away. Not only are the Koreans who have moved here incredibly hardworking, but they have a real sense of civic pride in the local area. They are quick to learn English and cause few social problems. They just get on with their lives quietly.
Contrast this with people from India, the Middle East and Pakistan, who move here with large families and require bigger council houses and more social support. They have less desire to integrate and seem reluctant take on local customs.
Most intelligent people ought to consider the head covering worn by muslim women despicable yet because of the large numbers of women wearing it we have become accepting of it. Once a group of people in society begin to act noticeably different form the majority they become a very marked ‘other’. No wonder people are uncomfortable around Muslim people, for this reason.
We’ve always felt isolated from mainland Europe. We have a suspicion of anything ‘foreign,’ only accepting them when they are made acceptable to our English taste (see Indian curries, which are nothing like authentic curries in India.
I’ve been trying to think of a recent comparison to this decision, yet anything falls short. Perhaps you have to look to Henry VIII’s break from Rome to find anything remotely comparable. These are exciting times to be British, make no mistake.