I guess the best answer is how the hell do I know and why should I care?
There is one reason I should care and you should too, but I will get to that in a minute.
When in Europe my fun thing to do is talk to average people about stuff I don’t understand and want to learn about beyond the talking heads on TV who know less than I do.
This trip it is the Brexit from the EU so I’m asking cab drives, hotel workers and two proper ladies sitting next to us having high tea and anyone I can strike up a conversation with. I asked our driver from the airport too. He had a strong opinion, but he was from Sweden and lived in England. One cabby I asked about getting out said “fantastic” and then talked for ten minutes about all that was bad about immigrants driving up prices of housing. He also mentioned the only people in favor of staying the EU were the rich. Another cabby was worried about what an exit would do to the economy, but was more worried about immigrants getting their undeserved “free” benefits.
So, what have I found out about Brexit? Clearly it’s on everyone’s mind. Several people hadn’t made up their mind how to vote, several were clearly in favor of exit. All I talked to were frustrated with the information they were receiving. When I asked about the economic consequences people were confused. They often said “expert” economists had two different stories; worry about exit; don’t worry.
Everything I have read so far says further isolating Britain from the rest of Europe is not going to be a good thing for the British, but what do I know?
Now here is the part you should care about. Everyone I spoke with whether outright for Brexit or undecided mentioned immigration as their issue. Nobody talks about anything else. Their story is simple. They are fed up with the flood of immigrants from Europe and they are worried that it’s only a matter of time before the new immigrants find a way to cross the Channel in boats from France. Everyone I questioned said the same thing.
Those opposed to the EU said because of Britain’s very liberal social policies, any immigrant can arrive today and tomorrow apply for and start receiving “benefits” as they say which is another word for various forms of welfare, including that famous free health care. Right wing politicians are stoking anti-immigration fears. [NOTE BELOW]
Something is going wrong. Our global world is coming unraveled. Europe is again headed into factions and unity such as it was, is disappearing. The United States, once the shining example of welcoming immigrants has louder voices for isolationism. Immigrants to the US and other countries no longer come to be Americans, but to live in America … and there is a big difference, a very big difference.
America was different because of three words e pluribus unum. If we lose that, we lose everything. If Europe loses its experiment in unity, it will become the old Europe and even a basic knowledge of European history will tell you where that may lead.
PS. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the people I questioned also questioned me. “What do you think about Obama?” You probably know the answer so I won’t elaborate. The British had one thing to say about Obama though; several thought he should mind his own business when it came to Brexit.
[Note] On my last day in London I asked another group of citizens about the EU. This time they were highly educated, higher income and well-traveled. They were opposed to the exit from the EU. They recognized the need for immigrants, they thought about the consequences of an exit both economic and personal as immigrant spouses of some citizens could be forced to leave the Country. They said next day immigrant benefits were not true, but rather to remain in the UK an immigrant must be earning a good income of £35,000 a year within five years of entry.
How easy it appears to be for politicians to manipulate the under informed with scapegoating and misinformation. Sound familiar?