Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator publishes an excellent article in the WSJ. He argued that the U.K.’s vote for a “Brexit” from the EU began as a cry for liberty and ended as a rebuke to the establishment.
As I reflected on this article, a couple of themes emerged.
Firstly, the Brexit vote was largely supported by less well educated working class people in England outside London. These are the same people who have suffered from austerity. This large group of people at the instigation of puppeteers, like Farage, have completely ignored the prevailing evidence from experts – believing that ‘they would say that wouldn’t they to protect their interests’.
The second theme is that older voters disagreed with their children and grand children and voted for Brexit. This is the group that want to stop the foreigners and put the clocks back.
Sadly, it’s the young, less well educated working class who will suffer most from Brexit. There will be fewer jobs and less investment. Economic crisis measures will mean massive cuts to public services, including the NHS.
Meanwhile, Scotland voted strongly to stay in Europe and it is clear that Scotland will demand a second referendum and the chance to stay in the EU. The UK would be seriously weakened without Scotland and there would be enormous one-time transformation costs like moving the nuclear deterrent. Without Scotland, the UK would no longer be of strategic significance to the US and this would have implications for US foreign and defense policy.
Yes, the people have voted and we have seen democracy at work. But populism is not the same as democracy. Populism is hostile to the established political elites or political classes. Unfortunately, those who voted for Brexit were unwilling or unable to consider the prevailing evidence – perhaps the wool was pulled over their eyes by the likes of Farage.
Unfortunately, the experts have already been proven right and the world financial markets are in freefall. When the dust settles and the working classes get left holding the baby, they will be angry and looking for a scapegoat. Again Farage will intervene and we shall see the growth of the racist far right in the UK. See my article a few months ago entitled, How a Brexit risks triggering return of Far Right, loss Europe’s democracies and WWIII – A Cosmopolitan’s Doomsday Scenario.
Who is to blame? Well, certainly David Cameron has made a catastrophic error of judgement. Also Jeremy Corbyn was seen to be holding his punches and was very very quick to blame austerity for the Brexit result. Expect dissatisfied Labour voters to move to Farage.
Of course, there is still a chance that common sense could prevail. Parliament could intervene and request another referendum. MPs must be very worried this weekend for their own futures, as well.