Part 3 – A Country Divided – How The Leave Campaigns Lies About Immigration And Sovereignty Were Able To Take Hold
By Teni Shahiean of OTS Solicitors
In the final blog on this series discussing how the Leave campaigners were able to influence such large swaths of the country with misinformation about Immigration in the In/Out Referendum, I plan to tackle the controversial issues of sovereignty and globalisation.
So much of the Brexit campaign and subsequent vote for leaving the EU centred on the seemingly mythical concept of sovereignty. Many leave supporters from the disenfranchised and impoverished areas of the North of England, Wales and East Anglia stated they wanted to leave the EU to, ‘get our country back’.
So, is Britain not a sovereign state if it remains in the EU? And how has globalisation affected the areas which predominantly voted to leave the EU? Will Brexit be positive or negative for these areas?
These questions are difficult to answer. But for the millions of EU nationals who are now racing to acquire permanent residence and British Citizenship so they can remain in the country they have called home, in some cases for decades – these questions need answering, if only so they know that the decision was not completely driven by Immigration.
The issue of British sovereignty
To quote Professor Michael Dougan professor of European law at the University of Liverpool, whose video vilifying the Leave campaign went viral in late June:
“There is no doubt whatsoever that the UK is a sovereign state, there is no doubt whatsoever that Parliament at Westminster is the supreme law-making body in this country. Conversely, there is no doubt whatsoever that the EU is not a sovereign entity, far from being a sovereign state, it has only those powers that have been given under the EU Treaty. And if the UK courts sometimes give priority to EU law, in the event of a conflict with domestic law, it is purely because our Parliament has expressly instructed them to do so in our own legislation.”
Professor Dougan stated that the EU Referendum debate was not about sovereignty, it was about power and influence. He pointed out that membership to any international organisation makes it necessary to make some concessions in exchange for gaining greater influence on the world stage and benefitting from certain privileges such as free trade.
Will leaving the EU satisfy those who stated that they wanted their country back? What will British sovereignty look like outside the EU?
As a sovereign state, Britain never needed to hold a referendum to exit the EU. Article 50 does not have to be triggered. Parliament simple needs to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and we would be out.
However, outside the EU we may find ourselves less sovereign, less in control. If, in the unlikely event, we are offered a Norway-style deal, so we can continue our unfettered access to the free-market, we will be forced to abide by EU rules and regulations of which we have no influence in the creation of.
As a Norwegian conservative, quoted by David Cameron in the Commons put it: “If you want to run Europe, you must be in Europe. If you want to be run by Europe, feel free to join Norway in the European Economic Area.”
Much of the British public equates British sovereignty with having control of its borders. Once again, it seems all roads in the debate lead back to Immigration. The fact is, unless Britain wants to start at square-one regarding trade, with virtually every single nation on earth, it will have to accept free movement in exchange for remaining in the EU market. To back this assertion up, not one politician that supported the Leave campaign will guarantee that Brexit will reduce Immigration.
Capitalism and Globalisation
Rampant capitalism and globalisation have created massive divisions in western societies. We've seen a move away from a manufacturing to a service-based economy. Belfast lost 26% of its manufacturing jobs during the 1960s. While Liverpool's population has shrunk by 16% since the early 1980s, Milton Keynes, just by virtue of its central location has struck gold – its numbers have increased to 78% as the city's retail and logistics sectors boomed.
Well-educated, middle-class, white-collar workers who have been able to embrace the service and technology sector and the opportunities it offers have thrived in the post-Thatcher, EU era.
Skilled, blue-collar, practical workers and the communities they live in have been dealt a blow from which they have never recovered. With little to lose and many to blame, of course they voted to leave the established order of the EU. If one cannot see any hope, any change is better than the status quo.
Unfortunately, it is these very communities that will undoubtedly be hit hardest by the austerity and recession that will follow Brexit. All the promises made to them by the leave campaign will be broken, because those making the claims of reducing Immigration and returning British sovereignty were never thinking about those languishing in the British heartland.
Brexit was a bloodless revolution. The only differences between Britain 23rd June 2016 and France in 1789 or Russia in 1917 was that no one died on the day and civil society did not implode. But all other factors were essentially the same. The disenfranchised, impoverished majority voiced their frustrations and stuck two-fingers up at the establishment.
The revolution of June 2016 is not new. Blaming immigrants is nothing new. Throughout history, when societies become too unequal, those at the bottom will usurp those at the top.
The question is – will the Government and us as a nation dig deeper this time, and try to mend the breaches of our society? Or will our great-great-great grandchildren face the same uncertainty, division and upheaval in the decades to come?
That is now up to us.
OTS Solicitors is a fully regulated, highly regarded law firm, based in the centre of London. Our solicitors are considered to be some of the best Immigration experts in the UK. We are regularly called on by the media to make comments on developments in Immigration law. To make an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors in relation to obtaining a UK permanent residence Card or British Citizenship, please phone us on 0203 959 9123.