RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Crunden writes: "Voters hoping for a shift in their fortunes when they opted for Brexit faced a rude awakening Friday morning. Britain's vote to leave the European Union was celebrated by supporters as taking control of the economy - but while some are celebrating it as a victory against the elite, it's clear that the effects of Brexit will likely hurt the working class far more."

Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, speaks to the media on College Green with the Houses of Parliament in the background in London, Friday, June 24, 2016. (photo: Matt Dunham/AP)
Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, speaks to the media on College Green with the Houses of Parliament in the background in London, Friday, June 24, 2016. (photo: Matt Dunham/AP)


Brexit Was Sold as a Victory for the Working Class. It Isn't.

By Evelyn Anne Crunden, ThinkProgress

25 June 16

 

oters hoping for a shift in their fortunes when they opted for Brexit faced a rude awakening Friday morning. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was celebrated by supporters as taking control of the economy — but while some are celebrating it as a victory against the elite, it’s clear that the effects of Brexit will likely hurt the working class far more.

Working class voters in the U.K. disproportionately voted to leave the E.U. and greatly influenced the outcome of Thursday’s vote. But if the working class enabled Brexit to happen, they had remarkably little to do with leading the revolt. The primary figures in the Brexit saga have been wealthy politicians, who have ridden the recent European wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and fears over refugees into a position of power — where they likely won’t suffer from the economic repercussions of Brexit in the same way that others in British society will.

Many of these leaders are members of the same elite that working class voters view as being corrupt and out-of-touch. U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage — who played a large role in leading the campaign to leave the E.U. — is a wealthy former commodities broker who has come under fire for tax-dodging and has claimed poverty despite earning a six-figure salary. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, another Brexit champion, once described his own annual salary of £250,000 as “chicken feed.” Still, through an expert campaign that painted immigrants and refugees as a threat to the economy and British jobs, these leaders were able to sway many voters in favor of Brexit.

Speaking an hour after the vote to leave the E.U. was officially confirmed, Farage, walked back his promised to allot £350 million a week to Britain’s National Health Service — a key tenet of the Leave campaign that was painted on buses driving around the country.

Asked by ITV’s Good Morning Britain if he could ensure the £350 million he said is currently sent to the E.U. every week — a number that has been thoroughly disputed — would go the NHS, Farage replied, “No I can’t, I would never have made that claim. That was one of the mistakes made by the Leave campaign.”

This reversal of economic promises is likely only the first of many. Proponents of Brexit emphasized the economic benefits of abandoning the E.U., but there is minimal evidence to suggest the vote will improve living conditions for those who are struggling. As Britain’s Trade Union Congress warned prior to the vote, British citizens are likely to make £38 less a week than their E.U. counterparts by the year 2030 once the country leaves the E.U. It goes without saying that this would hurt, not help, British workers.

The anti-immigration stance taken by Brexit proponents is also closely related to the economy and will have serious repercussions. Trends indicate that immigrants actually have a positive impact on the economy, and the International Monetary Fund has argued that taking in refugees would help countries with stagnating finances. Britain itself has already benefitted financially from migration to the E.U. — one study from University College London approximates the amount to be around £20 billion from between 2001 and 2011 alone.

Already, a plummeting currency has knocked Britain out of its place as the world’s fifth-largest economy, a title which now belongs to France. Markets have been thrown into turmoil and the British pound sterling sits at its lowest level in thirty years. While it will be some time before the full extent of Brexit’s financial impact is known, it is increasingly unlikely that the working class voters who opted to leave the E.U. will be better off.

Ultimately, the British economy has suffered alongside much of the E.U. over the course of the past few years, and those most affected have been blue collar workers. The 2008 financial crisis dealt a hard blow to working families, who still earn £40 less per week than they did before the crash. They have also faced growing obstacles to higher education and increasing challenges when eyeing upward mobility. Questions about the impact of globalization, single markets, and inequality are all fair and long overdue — but so far, it’s clear that Brexit was marketed to voters as something it is not.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+2 # MsAnnaNOLA 2016-06-25 09:04
Honey globalization is one of the factors driving down wages. A country being on control of its own destiny is a good thing. Yes there may be pain in the short run, but England is now free to conduct its foreign affairs in accordance with its own interests not those of the continent. Where they coincide good, where they don't they can go their own way. They can shape policies that are best for England by Elected Parliamentarian s not unelected bureaucrats.

Luckily it seems their voting is not rigged like ours, they can always throw the bums out if it is not working out for them. They had no such power under EU bureaucracy.
 
 
0 # Helga Fellay 2016-06-25 09:24
The Brits did the right thing for all the wrong reasons. Borrowing a page from Donald Trump's playbook, they won at least in part based on fear and hate, xenophobia and islamophobia. The shock waves produced by Brexit will be painful in the short run, but beneficial in the long run for both Britain and the world. It is likely that it will be followed by others leaving the EU, the weakening and possible dissolution of NATO, and the US Empire losing its strongest vassal in its pursuit of world domination and destruction. It may end its aggression towards Russia and just might, let's hope, prevent World War III. Brexit's long-term ripple effects may well astound us all in the end.
 
 
+10 # reiverpacific 2016-06-25 09:50
Please don't lump always more populist-progre ssive and worker-friendly SCOTLAND in with "The Brits" (although it never ceases to fart my kilt up in exasperation when Americans refer to Britain generally as "England!") in this case.
ALL of Scotia voted "Stay"
If you look at the map available, it's small pockets of constituency-ri ch Tory/ "Britain-First" areas, especially around London and the S.E., that have done the country down.
The only positive thing springing from this is that it will precipitate another Scottish independence referendum with hopefully a better result this time after the Scots experienced the broken -in fact ignored- promises made by Cameron (like the "Trail of broken treaties" of the American Indians), and become totally independent of Westminster whilst joining the EU as a self-sufficient nation in its own right with much to contribute and trade.
 
 
+5 # Maturus 2016-06-25 10:06
In the interests of factual accuracy, 1.6 million Scots voted 'Remain', 1 million voted 'Leave'. David Cameron's area, Oxford, voted 'Remain', Sunderland and Merthyr Tydfil voted 'Leave'.

My personal interests would have been best served by a 'Remain' vote but I do understand why so many Britons voted to Leave.

I favoured a Leave vote in Scotland last time but the majority voted to stay. In view of the collapse in oil prices, the majority were rather wise. Nicola Sturgeon will issue sound-bites but she won't push for another referendum unless/until the British economy collapses as a result of Brexit. Of course, in that case there won't be an EU to run to.
 
 
+2 # chrisb 2016-06-26 03:27
'it's small pockets of constituency-ri ch Tory/ "Britain-First" areas, especially around London and the S.E., that have done the country down'

What complete rubbish! London is the only part of England that voted strongly for Remain. It was Labour strongholds in the North that voted strongly for BREXIT.
 
 
+1 # fuzzbuzz 2016-06-25 10:21
> It may end its aggression towards Russia and just might, let's hope, prevent World War III.

WW1 and WW2 were both European wars that spilled worldwide, both were due to fervent nationalism, and both were precursors to the creation of the UN and EU, which so far, prevented further world wars.

This is actually a step TOWARDS WW3, not away from it.
 
 
0 # chrisb 2016-06-26 03:30
The EU was complicit in the coup in the Ukraine which has led to Russia sending troops into that country and the subsequent civil war, which has moved us closer to WW3 than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis. The US strategy is for the EU to become the political substructure for NATO, as it would be easier for the US to influence one European Government than many.
 
 
+4 # napmoo 2016-06-25 09:55
The EU was sold to the workers under the same banner and failed. At least with law making closer to home, people have a better chance to affect it. They had no such chance with the EU hierarchy. United globalism is a hierarchical control tool. Britain is leaving at just the right time.

Watch this and see how the EU is a dysfunctional system. Why would any individual want to be subject to it.

BREXIT THE MOVIE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTMxfAkxfQ0

"At least 75% of our laws are made by EU institutions says senior European Commissioner Viviane Reding"
 
 
+1 # napmoo 2016-06-25 09:55
http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/12/15/european-empire-eus-new-border-force-will-override-national-sovereignty/

In a move that some would call astonishing and others would call inevitable, the EU has announced plans to create a border and coastguard force to guard against the growing number of security threats against Europe.

The force would operate throughout the EU and have powers to intervene --even when the host country does not consent--.

The European Commission will propose that the new agency has the “right to intervene”, which is incredibly frightening in a world covered in the scars of interventionist policies.

Draft...
“In urgent situations, the agency must be able to step in to ensure that action is taken on the ground even where there is no request for assistance from the member state concerned or where that member state considers that there is no need for additional intervention.”

The Polish Foreign Minister said, “a structure that is independent of member states is shocking“.
...
The project has previously been sold as being necessary to protect the EU’s values, whatever they may be, and Henningsen identified the crises of the Eurozone, EU members threatening to leave, migration, terrorism and NATO’s irrelevance as growing causes for a push towards an EU Army.
 
 
-2 # RMDC 2016-06-26 07:52
napoo -- yes, good. The EU was designed as a way to negate European democracy, especially democratic socialism. It was a "super government" set up by banks and corporations to act as a check on the democratically elected governments. Elected leaders had to answer to the EU, European Parliament, and ECB.

The EU was heavily promoted by the US in order to break up the democratic socialism of Europe that was working to push America to the left.

Let's hope the EU is on the way out.
 
 
-14 # stanny1 2016-06-25 10:03
If it stops the Jihad invasion, Brexit will be partly successful.
 
 
+16 # fuzzbuzz 2016-06-25 11:09
The only thing that will stop "Jihad invasion" (whatever that means) is to stop bombing and destroying their countries.
You bomb and kill innocent countries, you get back refugees and terrorism. Did you really not put 2 and 2 together?
 
 
+1 # angryspittle 2016-06-25 10:22
Britain's right wing racist bigots convinced the rubes to lay Russian roulette with a loaded revolver.
 
 
-4 # lnason@umassd.edu 2016-06-25 10:31
In listening to interviews with Brits, the working class interviewees have most often mentioned the new EU rule against electric tea kettles. The EU adapted the rule in an effort to fight climate change but virtually everyone in Britain owns one and apparently loves owning one.

Xenophobia was probably in the mix too though I heard nothing that might prove it -- just the rants of Amanpour and her ilk asserting xenophobia -- but protectionism (anti-capitalis t free trade) definitely was.

Getting rid of EU rules made by bureaucrats in Brussels (who were not elected by the Brits) seems a perfectly reasonable and justifiable outcome and there was no doubt that regaining autonomy was one of the stronger selling points for the working class public.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+8 # RMDC 2016-06-25 11:09
"But if the working class enabled Brexit to happen, they had remarkably little to do with leading the revolt. The primary figures in the Brexit saga have been wealthy politicians, who have ridden the recent European wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and fears over refugees into a position of power —"

Sounds just like America with Trump riding the populist revolt and the Koch Bros riding the Tea Party. I have no doubt that the resistance to globalism of the working class will be co-opted and turned against them. The ruling elite all over the world know how to do this. The Clinton's did it to the "progressives" in America.

Socialist parties world-wide are pretty much dead. Chavez was murdered and his party is being dismembered by the CIA.

I would not listen to much published in ThinkProgress -- a Soros mouthpiece. Of course Soros backs the EU and its growing war against Russia.

There's very little substance in this article. Who knows where the 350 million pounds per week will go. It it too early.

All of these working class populist movements in the west are just too early to characterize. They have very troubling aspects in their xenophobia and nationalism, but the good part is that the victims of neo-liberalism are beginning to rebel. The rebellion is good, but it does have some dangerous sides and dangerous opportunists like Trump. The worst by far is the French National Front which has direct ties to Nazism and the French Right.
 
 
+3 # RNLDaWy 2016-06-25 11:50
Even if this authors comments come to fore the vote was very close .. divided in fact .. and it was a vote against the disconnection between 'Elites' who have it so good and 'Main Street' and the disconnect today. Same as here .. The pound went down because of the initial ties to the 'Rigged' Market place that UK was beholden to under the EU. That will be temporary and the EU will not work without it's strongest participant that is Economically Strongest leaving .. parallels exist the next time the USA electorate gets it's chance to have a say in November .. and the telling of it via what happened in the UK could very well signal a rejection of the Dem Elites and the election of Donald Trump in the very same vein ..
 
 
+5 # guomashi 2016-06-25 12:13
Whether or not Brexit was a victory for the working class remains to be seen.

The one thing that is clear is that Brexit was a resounding defeat for globalization.

Issues of immigration and sovereignty are superficial. If government takes care of its people, there is no revolt.

Obviously EU had other priorities, and is now teetering on the brink of dissolution because of it.
 
 
0 # politicaleconomist 2016-06-25 12:52
Very presumptuous to arrive at a conclusion at this point in time. Just as the election of HRC could lead to worse than Trump in 2020, the result of Brexit could be a positive step to the end of neoliberalism and neoconservatism . In other words, one can make a good case for defeating Clinton and for the Brexit as both being in the long-term interest of the working class (the 80-90% at the bottom). But, that is far from a certain outcome. Re-organizing the Labor Party and the Democratic Party are necessary for positive long-run outcomes. Majoritarian organization for majoritarian goals are the essence of democracy while the defeat of the Cameron-Blair-C linton-Obama policies of neoliberalism combined with neoconservatism (much worse with Clinton than Obama) are an iportant part of that process.
 
 
+1 # Activista 2016-06-25 13:04
This is good, informative article - negative comments to the article are mostly ideology, not a facts.
"Proponents of Brexit emphasized the economic benefits of abandoning the E.U., but there is minimal evidence to suggest the vote will improve living conditions for those who are struggling. As Britain’s Trade Union Congress warned prior to the vote, British citizens are likely to make £38 less a week than their E.U. counterparts" ...any economic prognosis to 2030 is a joke - but EU generally keeps the economic conditions more equal in the member states - free people movement across the borders facilitates this.
Only positive result of EU fall would be dissolving of archaic NATO - but:
US Troops in Europe to Outnumber all European ... - Global Research
www.globalresearch.ca/us-troops-in-europe-to-outnumber...european-troops.../5520272
Apr 15, 2016 - Nobody will dare to utter a word, because US troops in Europe will soon ... With the help of US troops, Poland, Bulgaria and others of the ilk will ...
 
 
+1 # Activista 2016-06-25 13:41
One small note - EU is actively SOLVING global warming - Germany is the leader. MOST of the EU far right opponents do not want to spend resources on the climate issue - this is what they call "dictate" from Brussels.
European Climate Change Programme - European Commission
ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/eccp/index_en.htm
Europa
The European Union has long been committed to international efforts to tackle climate change and felt the duty to set an example through robust policy-making ..
 
 
+1 # angelfish 2016-06-25 13:11
THIS is why Trump LOVES the poorly Educated. They THINK they're doing something good for themselves, when in reality, they're shooting themselves in the foot yet, AGAIN! Sadly, ALL of us will be feeling the repercussions.
 
 
+3 # RMDC 2016-06-25 13:43
angel -- this may be true but it is only a comment on the failure of the socialists and communists who used to organize the working class and the disenfranchised . The socialists and communists were simply driven out of existence by the relentless attacks from the right wing in both America and Europe. The complaints poorly educated people have continue just the same as always but there's no one to listen to them other than the Trumps of the world. Hillary does not give a fuck about these people, other than to help Goldman Sachs steal their income and retirement savings.

The poor and poorly educated have no place in the political world post Reagan and Thatcher. They are a magnet for demagogues. But I"ll take the demagogues over the rapists like the Clintons or Bushes.
 
 
0 # angelfish 2016-06-25 15:33
How sad that you can't see how BIG of a Rapist and Racist Trump really is! I hope that Bernie will run on the Green ticket so he can flush her Toilet Royally! Trump is a SICK Joke but that DOESN'T preclude him from winning. If he does? Say "Hello" to "le Deluge".
 
 
+1 # chrisb 2016-06-26 04:09
Did you mean to write 'rapist' or 'racist'?
 
 
0 # angelfish 2016-06-27 18:22
BOTH!
 
 
+1 # leftcoast 2016-06-25 13:50
I just got through Facebooking a German friend. It seems there is a gut reaction to certain cultural differences.
Halal.
Full face veils......
 
 
+4 # TJGeezer 2016-06-25 14:33
Austerity, a policy that hasn't worked anywhere to benefit anyone but the rich, was forced on them by bankers and other oligarchs in Brussels - people they never even had a chance to vote against. Of course they voted against staying in and against the politicians who helped put those policies in place. If people's anger and economic fear got manipulated for gain by the worst among them, how was that different from what Trump is trying do in the U.S.? If the U.S. didn't have such damaging austerity forced on them by the usual suspects in Congress working for our own oligarchs, it wasn't because they didn't try. Now I see all kinds of "even dumber than Americans" snarks being thrown, but who did those austerity policies really help? Certainly not the people who voted to leave.
 
 
0 # chrisb 2016-06-26 03:13
You are aware that, were the UK in the Eurozone, the very same EU would be demanding even greater austerity in the UK?
 
 
+1 # chrisb 2016-06-26 03:24
A very one-sided article. You should be aware that: the EU has deposed two democratically elected governments (in Italy and Greece in 2011); it was complicit with the US in overthrowing the democratically elected government in the Ukraine; the EU Parliament cannot initiate its own legislation, it merely rubber-stamps legislation produced by the un-elected Commissioners; EU policies are decided by a small cabal and increasingly by one person, Angela Merkel; EU economic policies have produced youth unemployment rates of 40-50% in southern Europe. Given these points, it is astounding that any democrat could choose to stay in the EU.
 
 
+1 # chrisb 2016-06-26 04:07
Sorry, I forgot to mention ... TTIP,a trade treaty giving US corporates have the right to sue EU governments in courts outside national jurisdictions, which the EU was planning to impose on EU member states.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN