Sweeper: A misunderstood Brexit?

Our discussion on Friday centered itself mainly around the aspects of Brexit and British populism that are perhaps overlooked by scholars and media. Namely, feelings and sentiments held by the “leave” camp surrounding immigration.

Of course the role of immigration in British culture has been a touchy subject long before Brexit, particularly in regard to eastern Europe. The migrant crisis of 2015 worked to exacerbate these existing anxieties and as we discussed, is perhaps not as well recognized as it ought to be.

In class we saw the areas of the UK and the demographics that tended to vote for the “leave” side on average. In discussion, this was built on and unpacked some more.  Older, more conservative individuals in the UK were worried about immigration and wanted to maintain autonomy from the EU.

This got me thinking about the built-in biases that individuals such as ourselves carry into these analyses. Most people do not think the way we do. There is a large portion of society that is never exposed to post-secondary thinking or the liberal values that are so well-drilled into students or faculty such as ourselves.

This makes topics like immigration an intimidating and confusing unknown to a lot of people, which subsequently became a focal point for the “leave” campaign to utilize.

As we discussed, these issues are therefore brushed aside in conversations similar to ours. We would never even consider going into the subject of immigration as a factor for Brexit, as they are wrong and therefore inherently sterile in our eyes.

What should be checked at the door by more by journalists, academics and professionals is their principles when delving into these kind of issues. If you want to understand populism, maybe you need think along the same lines.

First Response: Brexit

Our readings and videos this week focused on the rise of the Brexit movement and why/how such a movement could have come to pass. What I found interesting was the anti-immigration sentiment within Britain that has been around since before the “river of blood” speech. As history students, we know that Britain is probably the largest exporter of immigrants since the Early Modern Era. Canada, America, and others were once considered “British Colonies” and as a result our most prominent populations are white, all with claims to British or UK heritage. Do you think that the British past will play a part in the British image in the future? Do you think that Britain still considers their past as “colonizers” their ‘great past’?

Brian Lewis’s speech was particularly interesting as he navigated the strategies the British government uses to gain support for their movements, such as allying themselves with the Gay/Lesbian community for political gain as opposed to genuine support. Do you think these communities will see through political schemes such as this? The British population was almost perfectly divided over Brexit, as Brexit won by approximately a 1% lead. Do you think minority populations were in favour of Brexit? Or do you think persecutions of the past have made them wary of all government?

My final question is this: What is the future of Britain? Will their government lean towards the less democratic?

It was a democratic vote that won Brexit the day. Should choices that affect the country on an international scale be left in the hands of the voters?