‘It Was Xenophobia Wot Won It’

Now that was a surprise. Britain has voted to leave the EU. It turned out to have been a clear split between working class communities in de-industrialised areas and the urban educated metropolitan liberal-minded ‘Guardian’ readers in the south. It shows how divided Britain is – and how out of touch Westminster is with the rest of the population.

It seems that older people in the north who will not have to live with the consequences of their vote decided en masse to leave. They are harking back to a bygone age, an age that is long gone and can never return in this new global age in which we all live. Narrow-minded politicians successfully whipped up fear and hate based on lies and misinformation. It is the state of xenophobia. Brexit has exposed patterns of deeply held racism in Britain, exacerbated further by the poor economic conditions they face.

The working classes wanted to ‘kick the establishment’, and they did! Cue serious constitutional questions, and perhaps a referendum in Scotland, all of which could lead up to the break-up of Britain and the even greater split between London and the rest of England. By ‘kicking the establishment’, things will probably get worse for the working classes, not better, even if there are reductions in immigration, which Farages, Johnsons and Goves were all too busy ranting on about.

By Britain leaving the EU, it weakens the EU, which could hasten its break up, too. The EU is far from perfect, but it has given a great deal to workers, grants to researchers, protection from human rights, and a collective economic, political and cultural spirit that aims to meet the interest of the many, not the few. Britain will become an isolated, detached and potentially irrelevant entity in European affairs going forward.

Waking up this morning I had this thought of an island drifting further away from its closest neighbours. For this moment on, I have to live with the aftermath of the realisation that more than half of the people in the country in which I was born in have been exposed as bigoted, reactionary and inward looking and forever more I will have to face my colleagues in Europe and look down in embarrassment because of it.

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