BREXIT: Blame Game in a Divided Country

Yes, it happened.

Those who expected that a referendum would end with a sigh of relief were shocked to find out that rather, it ended with a gasp of shock. Now that some time and the initial shock of “EU without Britain” (or rather, “Britain without EU”) have passed, various media groups and journalists are trying find out why it happened. Of course, if we’re being truthful, it’s more about who than why; people are basically naming names, dividing Britain even further.

 

“If you’ve got money, you vote in. If you haven’t got money, you vote out.”[1]

The above statement has been a mantra for a majority of the British public; many believed that the Brexit campaign was a classic example of ‘class politics’, according to which your level of wealth would have either compelled you to vote leave or remain. It was mainly from this idea that your ‘class’ decides what you vote for rather than rational reasoning that caused the British society to be more divided than ever about a single issue. While a lot of working class people were vehement about the ‘elites’ based in London being the only ones benefitting from Britain’s relationship with EU, a majority of those ‘elites’ accused the working class people of being ignorant of economic consequences Britain’s exit from the EU will bring.

The Leave campaigners’ arguments were mostly based on the fact that the growth in the number of European migrants has sharply increased over the last three years, from 1.4 million to 2.1 million[2], and that they are ‘stealing’ the jobs that should have been originally taken by a British citizen. It is basically the idea that the immigration is so out of control that “Brits on low pay – and those out of work – are forced to compete with millions of people from abroad for jobs.”[3]

Of course, the extent to which this alleged ‘over-competition in the job market due to EU immigration’ phenomenon is actually true is debatable. After all, it is also true that these immigrants pay taxes; in fact, they pay more than they receive. According to HMRC figures, migrant workers in Britain paid £2.54bn more in income tax and national insurance than they received in tax credits or child benefit in 2013-14.[4]

photo-1414484893951-7789bf8372ae.jpg

“Yes, it is much too easy for us to draw a line and build a wall dividing “us” and “them,” but division never solves any problems.”

However, what this article is trying to divine is not whether the claims made by either campaign was true or false; rather, it is trying to determine whether the divisive labels given to both sides of the Brexit issue is justifiable. Is it true that the ‘poor’ voted to ‘leave’ and the ‘rich’ voted to ‘remain’?

Well, the statistics tell us that it’s not that simple. The analysis of those who voted for Leave shows that 34% who opted out are in AB group (economically middle-high class). Furthermore, those who owned their homes voted to Leave by 55% to 45% while those with private rentals and with mortgages voted to Remain. (55% and 54%)[5] Therefore, it would be an oversimplification to simply state that just because 64% of C2DE category voted to Leave, all Leave voters are from a less fortunate economic background.

Yes, it is much too easy for us to draw a line and “build a wall” dividing “us” and “them,” but division never solves any problems. The need for vigorous campaign and name-calling has passed; now that the results are out and Britain has taken an irreversible step towards the exit door, it is crucial that we stop the blaming game. An intentionally pessimistic outlook due to bitterness will end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Britain needs to move on from the election campaign rhetoric and come to terms with reality; it is now time for them to focus on how to turn a crisis into an opportunity, rather than pointing fingers at each other as the ashes of the disaster slowly sets into cover Britain.

 

 

 

*Photo Credit: Maria Stiehler, provided by Unsplash.com, uploaded on October 28, 2014. Available at: https://unsplash.com/search/divide?photo=O0XaLIX51PQ

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/commentisfree/2016/jun/24/divided-britain-brexit-money-class-inequality-westminster

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/20/reality-check-are-eu-migrants-really-taking-british-jobs

[3] Brexit campaigner Iain Duncan Smith

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/tax-contribution-of-recently-arrived-eea-nationals-for-2013-to-2014

[5] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/who-voted-brexit-how-eu-8277077

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s