AS part of a Conservative election manifesto last year, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was returned to power with the proviso that he would give the UK voters a referendum, that is, a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision. This referendum was held earlier this week, 23rd June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. We at Kingstonmouth ask whether involving the British electorate in this hugely important decision was a wise Political move, taking into consideration the depressing results that ensued.
The European Union – often referred to as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to encourage economic co-operation, with the aim that countries which trade together are less likely to declare war against each other. The United Kingdom’s relationship with the EU has long been one of the most divisive, emotive issues in British politics. In the 1970s, we recall vividly that the Conservatives backed British membership of the European Common market, although, at that time, there was opposition on the right of the party. The most concerted opposition came from the left of the Labour party, led by Tony Benn and Michael Foot.. By 1992 the Maastricht Treaty was signed by Thatcher’s successor John Major which involved huge transfers of power to the new European Union. However, Britain secured opt-outs from the single currency and the social chapter. This sealed the relationship between the UK and Europe, yet the treaty’s critics – including many Tory rebels – felt it undermined the British tradition of the sacrosanct sovereignty of Parliament. Subsequently, the EU has grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. Today The EU is the UK’s major trading partner, accounting for 44% of exports and 53% of imports of goods and services.
In 1990, a controversial agreement by the EU was reached at the Schengen Convention. The convention proposed the complete abolition of systematic internal border controls and a common visa policy. The Schengen Area operates as a single state for international travel purposes with external border controls for travellers entering and exiting the area, and common visas, but with no internal border controls. It currently consists of 26 European countries covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square kilometres (1,664,911 sq mi). The Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, together with the Treaty of Accession in 2005, workers from the new member states can be employed on an equal, non-discriminatory terms in the old member states. The out campaign capitalised on the fact that the Shenghen agreement created a porous border that was being exploited by asylum seekers fleeing war in the Middle East and sub Saharan Africa. In addition, they argued that the Maastricht treaty paved the way for a flood of migrant workers from Eastern European EU membership countries to the UK driving down wages and making it difficult for Britains to be gainfully employed. However, there are no credible statistics to back this dubious claim. It seems that these claims resonated with the white working-class British people and Black immigrants whose wages have stagnated and whose living costs continue to rise.
The campaign leading up to the referendum vote was a bitter and divisive process that split the UK down the middle. In fact, it was fought on fear and dry self-interest and between two political groups drawn from both parties forming two separate camps: the in and the out campaigns. The out campaign (BREXIT), consisted of mainly far right protaganists and was led by Former Conservative London Mayor and Prime Minister aspirant, Boris Johnson, Conservative Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, and UKIP leader, Nigel Farage. The in campaign, led by UK PM, Cameron and Deputy PM and Chancellor, George Osbourne, also included reluctant and dispirited Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The campaign composite on both sides consisted of very unlikely Political bedfellows. For example, the idea of Farage, an ultra-right-wing Politician, sharing a platform with George Galloway, a half-baked Communist, is a Political orgy not a serious campaign on the UK’s future with Europe.
The in campaign stressed the necessity for Britain to continue to be part of the largest common economic area globally. David Cameron repeatedly warned that 44 % of Britain’s exports go to other EU countries and that putting up barriers with the countries that Britain trades with most would be counterproductive. Meanwhile, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, appeared reluctant and unconvincing when contributing to the remain in Britain debate. He appeared disinterested during final debates, looked zoned out and disconnected. At the eve of the referendum, the polls were neck and neck with the in campaign receiving the nod from major pollsters to win the referendum. By 5am GMT the British public were jolted by news from the associated press that the leave campaign had won 52% to 48% prompting a huge celebration by UKIP’s Nigel Farage. This was confirmed at 07:30 am by Jenny Watson, Chair of the electorial commission.
From this time onwards, the most unlikely of Political revolutions in Europe had begun: Marie le Pen, infamous President of the French National Front sent a cringeworthy congratulatory message to the winners of the out referendum. It dawned on Kingstonmouth at this stage that the UK had begun a journey along a dark passage towards self-imposed isolation from Europe. As we contemplated the reaction from the global financial market, bile rose in my throat and I reached for the sick bucket. At 07:34 am I was jolted back to sobriety when the Sky financial news reported that the UK pound had lost a value of 17 pence against the dollar. Shortly after, the Governer of the Bank of England appeared on tv with a keep calm and carry on message aimed at reassuring the jittering global financial markets. At 08:30 am a sombre David Cameron announced his pending resignation in a sombre and measured speech in which he said that he respected the message sent by the electorate and that he would pave the way for a new Conservative Leader who would oversee Britain’s exit from the EU. Towards the end of his speech he asserted, “I love this country — and I feel honored to have served it.” A dark gloom of uncertainty crept across the nation.
Politics is a back-stabbing vocation; at the heart of Cameron’s demise and the pending exit from Europe is a dodgy plot hatched by the his Eton classmate and friend, the shadowy buffoon Boris Johnson. He is hungry and itchy for power and has exploited the fears of the British people. His prime motive is to become the next Bullingdon member to be elected as Prime Minister. He played a dubious game of Political poker that may ultimately lead to a break-up of Europe and the UK.
The onslaught of responses to the BREXIT announcement continued: Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, immediately confirmed that Scotland will move towards a breakaway from the UK as they want to remain in the European Union. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel described the decision as a watershed of British relations with Europe and urged the UK to leave the EU quickly. Germany also warned of a BREXIT ‘domino’ effect where other member countries of the Eu might follow the UK’s decision and leave. The British EU Commissioner, Lord Hill, resigned as he professed he did not support the decision. Bidders for TATA Steel UK stated they were likely to end their interest in this important company. Moody’s Rating Agency downgraded the British Economy to ‘negative’, due to ‘chronic uncertainty’. Grave concern was expressed by News Agencies about the possibility of rising inflation.
The UK is a small island; now an unimportant island, separate completely from other continents. Why did the voters make this decision? At the heart of this, we believe, is the scaremongering about immigrants. Some fear-mongering newspaper editors and opportunistic Right-wing Politicians persuaded 51.9% of the British public to blame the EU for what ailed them. So many state that ‘they’ are taking ‘our’ jobs, driving down wages, living in ‘our’ Council houses. But we question this. Do the British working class apply for positions as careworkers, as cleaners, as waiters, as kitchen assistants, as construction workers? We at Kingstonmouth have been employed in such positions and see only hard-working Eastern Europeans, West Africans, and Caribbeans. In all London hospitals the support staff working anti-social hours and traversing across London who clean, scrub and do the real dirty work are from every corner of the world, NOT from Britain. Simply put, the uneducated British classes who voted in the referendum have no intention or interest in such ‘menial’ employment yet state that these jobs are being ‘taken’ by Europeans and immigrants whom the EU is allowing to wander across borders wily-nilly. This is a hugely simplistic tenet to vote upon.
Surely, this BREXIT result shows that democracy is under the spotlight as a guarantor of human progress; Thomas Hobbs may have been right when he asserted that the masses were too shallow to govern.
This article was written by Donovan reynolds CEO and edited by Ann Smith Managing editor of Kingstonmouth.com. Donovan Reynolds is an Independent blogger and Human Right’s Activist of Jamaican descent and a legal Acdemic who has an interest in Human Rights, Culture and International Development issues. Readers of this article are welcome to provide feedback at the space provided at the end of this article ar at firstname.lastname@example.org useful commentary made on our Facebook and Kingsonmouth@twitter pages.