One of our members, Chris W (pictured below), has contributed this thought-provoking piece on the role to be played by Leave voters in denouncing the government’s anti-immigrant policies. Chris is a former news reporter who has been working in public relations for the past five years. While no form of governance is perfect, Chris is a passionate believer in the benefits Britain receives from being part of the European Union and the world’s largest single market.
Comedian Richard Herring tweeted last week: “All the people who said they didn’t vote leave because of immigration must be furious now Brexit is all about immigration. Silently furious.”
I’m curious to know what people who voted to leave the EU now think of the direction our new Prime Minister is planning to take the UK. Last week the Government claimed it is attempting to “reclaim the centre ground” by:
1. forcing companies to publish the number of foreign staff they employ – There are estimated to be more than 5m Brits living overseas, can you imagine the outrage if foreign companies were compelled to publish the number of British workers they had working for them?
2. using the uncertain status of more than 2m EU nationals living in the UK as a bargaining card in Brexit negotiations – It is estimated 55,000 of these EU nationals work in the NHS alone. If the UK Government does not guarantee them the right to stay then the NHS faces a very bleak future.
3. saying citizens of the world are citizens of nowhere – and therefore by implication not welcome to be citizens of the UK
4. proposing to help solve the UK’s multi-billion pound trade deficit by exporting innovative jams and marmalades
Theresa May also claimed she wanted to create a country that worked for EVERYONE – but seemingly only if you were born British. My belly feels like it has not heard so much political doublethink since 1984. Remember that many of the 37% of the electorate who voted to leave the EU were very vocal about sharing their pride for Britain during the referendum campaign. Leaders of the leave campaign also assured us Britain would be even more outward facing when we were outside the EU. They excitedly told us about all the far flung countries that would be queuing up to do trade deals with us once we had freed ourselves from the prison of being inside the world’s largest single market (membership of which has created all-time record employment levels for UK nationals).
So, what do we hear from leave voters about the latest batch of proposals from our Government for Brexit Britain? Very, very little. Through a particularly nasty piece of divide and rule politics, of which Machiavelli would be proud, Theresa May has cynically tried to nullify the 34% of the electorate that voted to remain in the EU. Last week May used the front page of the Daily Mail to “savage the liberal metropolitan elite” and accused liberals of sneering at and patronising the working classes. Yes, you head that correctly. Millionaire, Oxford-University educated, former financial consultant, Theresa May, who has promised a “fairer society” and to “crackdown on the privileged few”, has accused liberals of patronising people. As an example of the fairer society she wants to create May appointed 23 other millionaires to her 27-strong cabinet. Voices that wanted to remain in the EU (which had included Theresa May herself three months ago) are being whitewashed out of the debate.
Therefore it is important that those who voted leave also voice their objections when the Government crossed a boundary as these are now the votes our new Government care about. As land grabs go Theresa May’s attempts to claim the centre ground of British politics was about as successful as The Bay of Pigs invasion. If we want to stop the UK going down an overtly nationalistic path now is not the time to stay silent.