Author Archives: James Lindsay

Migration myths and unravelling of Brexit promises

The recent increase in hate crimes against Eastern Europeans in the UK has rightly been met with condemnation from across the political spectrum. Some dismiss this is a post-referendum spasm which will quickly ebb away. I fear that may not be the case and the Brexit decision may cause long-term damage to community cohesion and open a Pandora’s box of nasty populist politics. Let me explain why.

Brexiteer leaders – Farage, Fox, Johnson – made promises which are already unravelling. They told voters that leaving the EU would lead to better NHS services, improved job prospects and smaller class sizes. Those promises were largely based on migration myths which, unfortunately, many people believed.

Voters were promised that leaving the EU would lead to an improved NHS. Migrants were (wrongly) blamed as a drain on scarce NHS resources and that the UK cash contribution to the EU would be redirected to the NHS.

The reality is that the NHS is struggling because people are living longer, but often with multiple medical conditions and there has been a huge increase in conditions resulting from lifestyle choices. Neither of these is related to migration – these are home-grown problems – so leaving the EU will not resolve them and may make matters worse as it could discourage medical professionals from coming to work in the UK. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Muddled mandates and the EU Referendum

Brexit means Brexit were among the first words spoken by Theresa May when she was anointed by Conservatives as our new Prime Minister. She swiftly followed that up by appointing prominent Brexiteers to key Government roles to direct the UK withdrawal from the EU.

Brexiteers argue that the outcome of the EU referendum provides the UK with a clear and unequivocal mandate to take the country out of the EU. Well, not quite: the result delivered confused and conflicting mandates.

Firstly, two out of the four countries which comprise the UK voted to remain: overwhelmingly so in the case of Scotland. Brexiteers do not therefore have a UK-wide leave mandate. It is important to remember that Scotland and Northern Ireland are countries not English counties. Scottish and Irish voters delivered a clear and unequivocal Remain mandate which deserves as much respect as the UK-wide vote: quite how that can be achieved is, at present, unclear.

Secondly, during the campaign Brexiteers offered voters all sorts of different alternatives to UK membership of the EU – the Norwegian model, the Swiss model, UK in the Single Market, UK outside the Single Market etc. Consequently, there was no single definitive leave mandate. Many of the leave voters I spoke to during the campaign were convinced that UK access to the Single Market would be guaranteed post-exit: if that is not the case will they still be so keen to leave?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 111 Comments
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