It is likely that no matter how dearly one feels about their native country, they probably have an idealized vision of a destination beyond their borders. For many Americans, particularly those who have traveled abroad, Great Britain appears to be that idealized destination for myriad reasons; none the least which are there doesn’t seem to be an inclination toward neo-conservatism, racism, or the xenophobic and tribal nationalism propelling the likes of Donald Trump.
Sadly, the vision of England sans nasty conservatives is an illusion that was never more apparent than in the so-called “Brexit” referendum results. The conservatives driving Brexit depended on fear, like Republicans, and an anti-globalism and anti-immigration campaign that earned them a close victory on Thursday and their cherished exit from the European Union.
It was little surprise that after the vote Donald Trump, who is running on same anti-globalism and anti-immigration platform that propelled “Brexiters” to victory, said the U.K. vote is a model for his campaign.
“People want to take their country back. They want to have independence in a sense. You see it with Europe, all over Europe…I think that it’s happening in the United States. It’s happening by the fact that I’ve done so well in the polls.”
That “’take their country back” mentality, no matter how it was instilled in British voters, was predicated on a lie that EU immigrants were destroying England, stealing jobs from native Brits, and flushing the economy down the toilet. As it is among ignorant and xenophobic Americans, the conservative fear mongering worked wonders and despite empirical evidence to the contrary, 52 percent of English voters believed getting out of the EU was the key to saving jobs, the economy, and indeed, the United Kingdom itself.
A common refrain around England among those convinced the nation was doomed if it doesn’t exit the EU is the existential necessity of stopping EU immigrants from entering the country; they demanded that Britain get out. Zack Beauchamp at Vox shared a story repeated in ‘thousands of pubs’ that “the Muslims and the Eastern Europeans” are ruining Great Britain. One Brit sounded suspiciously like a typical Republican and Trump supporter:
“We’re letting in rapists. We’re letting in shit. I have four children. How are they supposed to get jobs?”
However, the lion’s share of immigrants to Great Britain are not from the EU: over 75 percent of immigrants hail from outside the European Union. This is in spite of the fact that one of the aspects of being an EU member-nation was having relative freedom to move from country to country with some minor restrictions unique to individual nations. Setting aside the Trump-like claim that immigrants are rapists and “shit,” the idea that the Brexit crusade was about saving the British economy and citizens’ jobs is the kind of shit one typically sees from a male bovine.
Researchers at Oxford, the London School of Economics (LSE) and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) all agree that the fear-mongering conservatives were lying to British citizens about losing their livelihoods to frighten them into voting to leave the European Union: “immigration does not affect British employment. However, Brexit would hit jobs.”
That assertion was verified by the Centre for Economic Policy which concluded, “we can confidently say that the empirical evidence shows that EU immigration has not had significantly negative effects on average employment, wages, inequality or public services at the local level for the UK-born.”
The four institutions debunked the British conservative’s myth that EU immigrants were flooding the island nation and decimating British citizens by putting “colossal downward pressure” on wages, a lie based on the other lie that EU migrants were stealing jobs that belong to British workers. Back in January the British version of Politifact, “InFacts,” reported that a newspaper had joined the “Brexiters” anti-immigrant propaganda campaign by publishing the purist version of the false story by running the terrifying and mendacious headline, “Millions of EU migrants grab our jobs.” The story implied that the only means of saving British jobs, the economy, and increasing wealth for all ‘natural Brits’ was to exit the EU and “take control of our borders.”
The headline and solution should sound extremely familiar to Americans because it has been a crucial staple of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and a common theme of no small number of Republicans fear-mongering over Hispanic immigrants. As it applies to America, and it does apply during a general election campaign, if, as the conservative liars claim, immigrants are taking jobs from British workers, it is odd that they are “seeing a record high employment rate…at a time when immigration is high.”
Again, like America’s Republicans, British conservatives are lying and if the people took time to look at “a string of academic studies – from the Centre for Economic Policy at the London School of Economics, the Institute for the Study of Labour, and the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford – that show EU migrants aren’t putting Brits out of work” they would have voted differently.
Now, as if to seize on the ‘angry mood’ of xenophobic Brits and parrot American conservatives, according to “the face of the ‘Brexit’ movement,” one Nigel Farage, the next step for the UK is to abolish the National Health Service program and replace it with an American system of private health insurance carriers. It is noteworthy that Farage is not an elected official; he is a typical conservative talking head.
Farage said he is tired of the state-funded public health system and wants it privatized…like Republicans want to privatize Social Security, Medicare, prisons and public education. And, Farage is not bashful about explaining why. He said, “My money would return value if I was able to do that through the market place of an insurance company.” Farage exudes the selfish mindset of Republicans and has no regard for the great majority of British population that depends on the publicly-funded National Health Service for all their healthcare needs.
In case anyone doubts how connected the nasty conservatives represented by Farage are to America’s hateful conservatives, Farage issued “a massive” and heartfelt thanks to Breitbart for covering its propagandizing and ‘Brexit’ coverage. Farage said:
“I would like to think and hope that right across the globe, what we’ve done is to prove that people power can beat the establishment, if they try hard enough. And can I just say a massive thanks to Breitbart, on both sides of the pond? Because you guys have been fair with me, and given me a chance to make my arguments. I thank you guys very much indeed for that.”
This is a sad and tragic commentary on so many levels, but none more than learning that a nation like England is no different than America and that American-style conservatives are free to lie with impunity and use American media to incite enough fear to convince 52 percent of the population that immigrants are destroying their existence. This is also a valuable lesson for Americans that no matter how well educated a people are, a little fear mongering, a heavy dose of xenophobia, and casting aspersion on “the other” can drive a population to make incredibly foolish decisions that can have deleterious results for the entire world.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.