What struck me most about these readings was the idea that immigrants are an economic drain rather than an economic benefit. Refugees, who fall into the humanitarian category, are one thing. But immigrants are people who come to the country in order to directly contribute to the economy, or to live with and support loved ones who contribute economically.
In the Brexit initial reflections reading, this line section really jumped out, “Cameron referred to the need to build the EU around ‘the right to work, not the right to claim’, stressing the need to prevent ‘vast migrations’ when new countries joined the EU.” These types of mass migrations and the perceived strain that they put on the UK were one of the main reasons the UK ultimately voted to leave. That quote comes from a 2014 interview. But these anti-immigration sentiments and the belief that immigration is a strain on the system originated much, much earlier.
In Enoch Powell’s 1968 River of Blood speech, there is a hauntingly familiar sentiment, “We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents.” This language of dependents is the same idea that Cameron invokes nearly 50 years later.
A cultural lack of understanding about the benefit and importance of immigrants is what, in my opinion, pushed the UK to exit the EU.
What makes the UK different from other countries in the EU? Are they more racist? More anti-immigrant? Or simply more desperate to reclaim their status as a global power?