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Referendum rooted in fear; why Brexit won’t solve British working class problems

The referendum was never about Britain getting a raw deal in the European Union and wanting out so that it can prosper on its own. It wasn’t even about voting to stop the hordes of barbarian refugees at the gates of the castle, given its natural moats, the Channel, the North Sea, which, at other critical moments in history, stopped would-be invaders like Hitler dead in their tracks.

Photo: British citizens protest unemployment issues. (Copyright UK Telegraph)
Photo: British citizens protest unemployment issues.
(Copyright UK Telegraph)

No. This referendum was about a once-fearless people now stricken with fear, a deep-seated but irrational fear that was co-manufactured by their leaders and allies of yesteryear—presidential warmongers in the White House, puppet prime ministers in Whitehall.

A fear that is today marketed to the masses by far-right nationalists, some may say neo-Nazis, such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in Britain, Marine Le Pen in France, and Donald Trump in the USA.

The vote was about a once economically-powerful people who enjoyed decent standards of living by global measure, but who today feel the pain of inequity; a widening gap between rich and the poor; and increasingly inaccessible higher education and fewer jobs for those who graduate bearing huge debt burdens.

Blame it on the EU and on the asylum seekers who are taking bread out of Britons’ mouths, putting the health service under stress, education out of their reach.

Britons, at least 17.4 million of them, did not vote on facts: they voted on perceptions and, some might say, fiction.

Photo: Conservative politician and former London mayor Boris Johnson was a key part of the Leave campaign.
Photo: Conservative politician and former London mayor Boris Johnson was a key part of the Leave campaign.

Who are the barbarians battering their borders that they would like to keep out of England?

According to Eurostat data, the number of first-time asylum seekers doubled in 2015 (from the previous year) to reach 1.26 million. Leading the charge were Syrians (363,000 or 29 percent), Afghans (14 percent) and Iraqis (10 percent).

Most of these refugees were absorbed by continental European countries, with Germany taking the brunt. Few made it to England.

What those who voted to keep refugees out should have asked was: what was the common factor that linked Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq? The answer is a no-brainer: they are war-torn, strife-ridden countries, rendered bloody, even uninhabitable, by the machinations and interventions of Washington, London and Paris.

It was these latter countries that initiated wars in all three. In the case of Syria, the trio declared open season on Assad, inviting anyone who cared to take a shot at him to fire away. They even armed, equipped and financed them.

Out of that reckless misadventure came ISIS, which, like the Taliban and al Qaeda before, are creations of the western warmongers.

Photo: The ISIS army waves its flags. (Copyright IBTimes)
Photo: The ISIS army waves its flags.
(Copyright IBTimes)

So the influx of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq into continental Europe is a direct consequence of the West’s stupidity, and now citizens of Europe are paying the price, on top of the trillions of dollars those wars cost and the lives lost in them.

Yesterday, David Cameron’s blind backing of Barack Obama’s misadventures in the Middle East has returned to terminate his political career.

Today, Le Pen and her fellow-Nazis in Austria, Holland and other countries are smelling EU blood. And tomorrow, that moron Trump might well find himself in the Oval Office playing with the controls for the US nuclear arsenal.

All that I have touched on above have, in different measures, influenced a bare majority of voters in Britain to pull that country out of the EU. And EU members who are fed up with Britain’s bickering are telling London to leave, post haste.

What those who campaigned for the exit will not tell those who heeded their call is that the root causes of Britain’s many problems will remain even if the country stops trading with its former EU allies, refuses to take another refugee or immigrant, and barricades itself like the bastion they think it could be.

Photo: Syrian refugees flee their war-torn country. (Copyright Citifmonline.com)
Photo: Syrian refugees flee their war-torn country.
(Copyright Citifmonline.com)

Britain’s fundamental problems—like the USA’s or Russia’s or Trinidad and Tobago’s—lie in a generic economic formula that has been touted as a panacea to its many challenges, and a social stratification in which wealth has trumped class, and both remain out of reach of the vast majority of Britons.

Withdrawing from the EU will not ameliorate these intractable problems. Rather, it is likely to aggravate them.

That 17.4 million mostly mature English people fell for the diatribe peddled by the anti-EU campaigners tells a sad story of how the mighty have fallen, from an intelligence perspective.

The 16.1 million mostly young people who held firm to the vision of an integrated Europe and a better world should now seek to change their national anthem, because not even God can save the Queen.

Photo: UKIP political leader and prominent Leave campaigner Nigel Farage.
Photo: UKIP political leader and prominent Leave campaigner Nigel Farage.

Sing instead Charles Kingsley’s immortal and more appropriate lyrics (paraphrased):

“Oh, England is a pleasant place for them that’s (filthy) rich and (stupidly) high/But England is a cruel place for such poor (and smart) folks as I.”

About Raffique Shah

Raffique Shah
Raffique Shah is a columnist for over three decades, founder of the T&T International Marathon, co-founder of the ULF with Basdeo Panday and George Weekes, a former sugar cane farmers union leader and an ex-Siparia MP. He trained at the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was arrested, court-martialled, sentenced and eventually freed on appeal after leading 300 troops in a mutiny at Teteron Barracks during the Black Power revolution of 1970.

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12 comments

  1. As as i can tell, all that problems the Brexiters are blaming the EU for are home-cooked problems in the UK the Brexit will not only solve them, but worsen their impact…. If the NHS is in a mess then I’d say the UK should have looked at re-vamping it just like Germany does for the last 20 Years on a regular basis. As a result Health care is generally still kind of free, but you have to pay some Euro for a prescription x-amount of times (there is a cap i think) and some Euros up to a cap if you go to the hospital… etc… free healthcare is difficult to maintain if you want it to be of good quality….. so you have to work on that…

  2. Many people don’t have a balanced perspective of what is happening within the EU and the reasons Britons voted to leave. The EU was never about democracy, peace or trade. It was just another ole boys club.

    To give some sense of the entitlement of EU MEPs, a German camera crew captured MEPs abusing EU expense accounts.

    Some MEPs are just as bad as our local politicians.

    https://youtu.be/wzEQWigzz30

  3. “What those who campaigned for the exit will not tell those who heeded their call is that the root causes of Britain’s many problems will remain even if the country stops trading with its former EU allies, refuses to take another refugee or immigrant, and barricades itself like the bastion they think it could be.”

    • I was hoping he would give his views on why

    • I’m guessing he is suggesting that the immigration is being conveniently overstated but isn’t really the cause of Britain’s problems today. Raffique?

    • Lasana, Britain has always been open to refugees and immigrants who qualify, so I don’t understand why some of us are stoking the fires. Some of us here are no better than the right-wing racists in Britain. Brexit may not solve all the working class problems but at least the politicians can’t blame the EU now for wasting taxpayers money. They will survive unlike TT who are patiently waiting for the price of oil to increase. What the eurocrats need to understand is that they are not representative of most of Europe and thy should tke a long hard look at themselves and fix that soon, else they’ll not exist for too long….My final rant on Brexit.

    • What do you mean by the eurocrats?

    • somehow I find this man looks like Trump. check the hair style

  4. in a nutshell but its even more complicated.

  5. The brexiteers are still hoping that their patriotic songs will have meaning once more. Remember them?…..Land of hope and glory mother of the Free and …..Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves….britons never, never, ever will be slaves. They have over the years, lost boundary and are no longer the force they once were. They are now enslaved by they themselves and have not realized that the world has stopped taking notice of them. A little island depending on others for trade deals but demanding that they get all that they want. Do they not know that they do not hold the important cards. The EU will not give in to them even if it is out of spite.

  6. The barristers are still hoping that their patriotic songs with the lines…..Land of ho p e ann