As you might remember, a few months ago I wrote a medium-sized episode in News specifically about the negotiation David Cameron was attempting with the European Union at the time. If you read this post by clicking here, you will see that these negotiations were made in order to be used as persuasive tools to the public and his own party so that they would eventually choose to ‘Remain’ at the upcoming referendum. What was pointed was to take notice of how the majority of these bargaining tools resembled a policy perspective that exemplified most of deficiencies of the current economy, and economic and political discourse in the United Kingdom. Despite this, what is even more frightening is that even these negotiated terms have been rejected by a majority of the British public that voted in the EU referendum (with 71.8% of registered voters).
Although there were some specific arguments to be made in favour of Brexit (regaining sovereignty in the face of a hugely undemocratic institution that is beholden in too many cases to large business interests, and an overall fiscal ideology of austerity) the British public have either in their millions conjured a ‘Leave’ majority through being ignorant of the current political context, or worse yet, opted for something that resembles a policy perspective that is much more extreme than the bargaining tools David Cameron attempted to negotiate for the Brexit rebels in his party and the ‘Remain’ campaign. For the latter explanation, if David Cameron’s deal resembled a policy perspective that exemplified most of the deficiencies of the current economy and political discourse; these set of skewed priorities must only be a fraction of what direction a large set of the populace would like to take the country in.
What is democracy without a well-informed populace? Britain’s free press is well known to be an ideologically hideous concoction of privately owned media that has continuously for decades pushed the red-herring narrative of immigration being the centre-piece of the country’s political and economic woes. In regards to the refugee crisis of this year and the last, the UN’s rights chief even attempted to intervene. Also check out this piece on the LSE’s blog for specific references to Britain’s print media.
As 98% of ministers of parliament and many more special interests supported ‘Remain’ and because of the sentiment among working class Brits that immigration and the European Union lowers their living standards, the ‘Leave’ campaign gathered the momentum associated with an anti-establishment movement. The fact however is that 98% of MP’s had an extra incentive in choosing to remain as they were also taking into consideration the short-possibly-to-long-term economic consequences of a Brexit ruining their elect-ability in the future. The truth was that ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ both had anti-establishment potential in principle, however the leave camp was able to make the most of it even if they were doing it in an abhorrent fashion. The subsequent coup against Jeremy Corbyn ignores this factor of anti-establishment momentum completely. There isn’t anybody to replace him that is not considered to be an insider, hence the surge in support for him after the coup was underway. Another establishment candidate from the Labour party chosen inwardly and undemocratically will see another huge net decrease in MP’s for them at the next general election.
Taking all of this establishment and anti-establishment dichotomy into mind, the clue then was to make the choice of Leave or Remain for yourself by taking into account what the political context is at the current moment in time. What kind of groups and political arguments will gain traction from this result? How will the political discourse be shaped from then on, and who will seize the power of Brexit for their own and/or on behalf of whom.
Putting aside the short-possibly-to-long-term economic stagnation for Britain and possibly the EU as a whole, the centrifugal forces breaking apart the European Union and Britain itself – the most worrying consequence is that the answers to these questions only look incredibly frightening. Yes, we should not deny working class Brits their own personal perspective and experience on the issue. Although, what are the options when emotional argumentation from anecdotal evidence gains more traction than statistical evidence?
What looks to be happening already from this result is that groups and political arguments all around Europe gaining in traction are the ones peddling the red-herring argument of immigration that we mentioned earlier, the politics of isolationism and division between nations and people. This has not only one, but two-tiers of worrying consequences; on top of the challenges of a globalised economy and environmental disaster.
All in all, David Cameron put this on the table in order to become elected. Not only did he wish us to stay in the European Union for all of the wrong reasons, he has allowed the United Kingdom to leave the European Union for reasons and with consequences that are far worse.