This week the readings focussed on why a referendum emerged in 2015 and why Britain voted the way it did in its 2015 referendum on Brexit:
Enoch Power’s speech in 1967 shows that there has always been a fear of mass-immigration to the UK. As the UK is not connected to any other countries, immigration has not previously been a huge fear. Enoch shows that there has always been an anti-immigration atmosphere in the UK since WW2 and that it has not merely emerged in the last decade in response to the economic crash and the rise of populist parties in mainland Europe.
Hobolt accounts Brexit to demographics- a population which is split between young and old, educated and uneducated and which lives in a very divided North-South sphere.
Brian Lewis put it down to a long trend of political conservatism and related that to the recent history of same sex relationships in the UK, something which I had not really considered. He always touched on some interesting ideas; namely that right-wing politicians, such as Le Penn, became supporters of same sex marriage, to safeguard western values from Islam, who primarily do not support it.
I think that the most interesting message to come from Brian Lewis’ talk on Brexit is that Britain are nostalgic for their past as a world superpower. There is a generation that is still alive that remembers Britain as a powerhouse of the world. Since the cessation of the Soviet Bloc from 1989, Britain have no longer needed to be a part of the EU as a communist obstacle. It is now just a union of countries, many of which Britain sees as inferior to them. It is important to remember that Britain was Eurosceptic from the outset in 1973, and although I agree that a fear of immigration was an important element in creating the demographic separatism, the foundations of scepticism have always existed amongst that same demographic who voted out. Furthermore, I agree with Lewis in saying that the only reason the referendum occurred was due to a Tory ploy to unify the party. Cameron ‘sacrificed the nation to save his party’.
So my questions for the group this week are:
- Does Brexit represent a changing revolutionary tide in the UK and Europe or simple continuity with feeling the 1970s?
- Despite being inherently more Pro-European, is there a possibility that the Brexit domino effect will occur in the rest of Europe, especially where there is already evidence of populist growth?