How Brexiters will be able to put anyone in their place. Anyone who is not rich, male and UK-born.

I have been struck by an article in the NewStatesman, “Forcing women to become carers after Brexit is no mistake – it’s what many Leave voters wanted” on how a lack of European Union carers forcing women to care for elderly people after Brexit is a feature, not a bug of Brexit.

First... EU citizens.

First and foremost, Brexit is the project of putting EU citizens who come to the UK in their place. How dare you come here taking jobs without having to jump through our visa hoops? How dare you come here on equal terms with British workers?

Post-Brexit, the idea is to put EU citizens in their place by stopping free movement. Free movement bothers Brexiters because it means foreigners come on an equal footing, as I have already argued in another piece in The New European.

Controlled immigration suits Brexiters because it puts the immigrant in a position decidedly below that of the British citizen, a position of dependency and possible rejection.

Next... women!

How dare they take jobs outside the home, including ‘boy jobs’? (yes, there are apparently boy jobs and girl jobs!) Back to the kitchen! Back to care for your dependents!

Ironically, of course, people who are full-time carers struggle to get by. And EU citizens who have been full-time carers — e.g. to their disabled British partner or children — are still unsure about whether they will be able to stay. Still...

Brexit will force UK citizens, mostly women, to stay home and care for elderly parents. A feature, not a bug! At least, they will know their place, and that place is in the home!

Next, metropolitan elites...

Ah! Those metropolitan elites! Make no mistake, it is not about having a lot of money. Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg are not elites. Neither is Nigel Farage, apparently he is just barely scraping by on his MEP salary and other assets.

No, metropolitan elites (as known as ‘citizens of nowhere’) are people who dare to be educated, to like the European culture, to speak some other languages than English to a reasonable standard. How dare they! Isn’t toast and beans good enough for them? Let’s put them in their place!

What post-Brexit haute cuisine could look like.

Let’s call them ‘Remoaners’ and tell them “You lost, get over it!”, and pursue the most extreme Brexit, which robs them of their freedom of movement and other EU rights. No matter if it will also hurt people who don’t like Europe and who are staunchly monolingual.

Next... students.

How dare they study such things as philosophy, or politics, or Japanese! How dare they try to broaden their minds and — gasp — use the Erasmus programme to go abroad! And how dare disadvantaged children go to university? They should learn something useful instead!

No, they should pick fruit! After all, EU citizens won’t do it. It will be a rite of passage! It will teach those elites ‘Real Life’ (as known as the ‘University of Life’).

Click here!!

Next... people in deprived areas.

Now, you might say, “Hey, wait a minute, aren’t people in deprived areas the same people who voted FOR Brexit in large numbers?” and “Shouldn’t we go through with it no matter what, otherwise it will be a betrayal of their vote?

You see, that is the beauty of Brexit!

Brexit will have most devastating effects in areas already struggling to get by. People increasingly unhappy with austerity who voted for UKIP and then also voted Brexit. They don’t want austerity. They don’t want children’s centres closed or infrastructure falling apart.

But, of course, our current leadership wants to press on with austerity. Make no mistake, it is a full-on war on the poor. Destroying them by a thousand cuts, dismantling their libraries, their schools, the NHS. And to put austerity on steroids with Brexit and then say “You voted for it!”.

How dare you, poor people, question us putting you in your place? You don’t deserve healthcare, that is only for the rich! The NHS was a horrible mistake and we need to stop it. You don’t deserve quality schools, that is only for people who can afford private schools!

So, what do we do? We direct all your anger to foreigners (always a convenient target) and to the European Union, which you don’t know much about anyway... And that is how Brexiters will be able to put anyone in their place. Anyone who is not rich, male and UK-born.🔷

Why do the most vulnerable least privileged vote against their own interests?

I think there are two possible answers:

  1. The average voter is very uninformed, and politicians who are in charge deliberately mislead them. This has come out of a lot of research, see for instance this piece on Donald Trump, “Trump Won Because Voters Are Ignorant, Literally.”, but it applies to Brexit too.

  2. People in deprived areas felt the austerity squeeze increasingly and were desperate for change. Cameron seemed to want to Remain in the EU, so they protested hoping to rock the boat and to get their plight noticed.

I think a mix of these explanations is right.

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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)

(Cover: Dreamstime/Sarah2.)