As more and more Remainers say they want Britain to stay in the EU, a much more coherent strategy to increase support for our EU membership is needed if we are going to stop Brexit. Firstly, Remainers must understand what led to 52% of voters voting to leave.
UKIP’s controversial Breaking Point poster presented by then leader Nigel Farage.
It goes without saying that immigration was central to the Brexit vote. A key tenant to the argument that we should leave the EU, was that we couldn’t control immigration while members of the European Union. But, what was it about the current state of immigration that people were so opposed to.
The fact of the matter is that after years of being scapegoated for the nation's problems people could project any issue they wanted onto immigrants. That’s not to say that the problems that were being blamed on immigration weren’t real, they were, they just weren’t caused by immigration. Instead the problems caused by immigrantion were few and far between, and easily outweighed by the benefits.
Yet, the mistruths of an increasing influential UKIP, politicians pandering to the anti-immigrant right and, the failure to educate voters on the issue of immigration, meant millions of voters went to the polls believing the benefits of decreasing the number of people coming into the country would outweigh the risk of severing ties from our biggest trading partner.
NHS waiting times, job losses, inequality and, declining wages were all blamed on immigration and, the ‘solution’ was believed to be, ending our EU membership not, ending the cuts that had caused most of these problems. Remain voting politicians avoided the issue of immigration, instead of tackling it head on.
2. Anti-establishment sentiment.
The cover of Owen Jones’ book , "The Establishment".
At the time of the referendum the people seen as the epitome of the establishment were, David Cameron, George Osborne, Amber Rudd and Nick Clegg. All of whom supported our continued membership of the EU.
For those disenfranchised with the system, Brexit offered the chance to deliver a fatal blow to all those people. Especially to David Cameron, who many correctly predicted would be forced to stand down as PM if he lost the vote.
The European Parliament.
A decisive issue in the EU referendum was democracy. While some people said democracy was their key issue, as a way to persuade others — and to some extent themselves — that they weren’t anti-immigration, most voters had genuine concerns about how democratic of an institution the EU was. After all, we were constantly told by Leavers that "unelected" Brussels bureaucrats were deciding our laws.
This criticism was partly true, though not a particularly good reason to vote Leave. It is true that the EU Commission does make important laws and, it is true that the President of the Commission is unelected. But the elected European Parliament and each of the EU27’s parliaments hold significantly more power than ours. Moreover, the laws passed by the Commission are mostly popular laws, with widespread support — such as environmental protections and workers rights.
For most people the EU Referendum campaign was confusing. A few years ago, our EU membership hadn’t really been a political issue, so, now people had to learn, from scratch, about our complicated and ever changing relationship with the EU, while being told of two completely different realities by Leavers and Remainers.
So, naturally, people were confused, and as a result the referendum simply boiled down to two options for some people; continuity or change. The Remainers' failure to illustrate a positive vision for the country inside the EU meant that their cause became intrinsically linked with a ‘more of the same’.
Unsure of what leaving meant, people at least knew that it represented change, "which must surely be better than what we already have", the thinking went.
And, we might be about to find out that that is not actually the case.🔷