This article’s in two parts. The first part involves this dual-national - UK and enduringly EU (French) whatever happens - bemoaning the leave vote. The second part, well, we’ll get there…
So what happened in 2016? A bus? Seriously? Who believes a politician at the best of times? And look at what politicians were for Brexit. Granted, David Cameron and George Osborne were on the remain side, and they’re utterly horrid, but the bus didn’t actually tell a lie, it just ignored the fact that the suggestion of funding the NHS with (some of) the £350million (gross) that goes to the EU each week could not be backed with any power to see it through. That’d have to be a policy decision and Cameron and Osborne were then in power, and singing from a different hymn sheet entirely.
I actually called for Brexit to happen when Cameron got his concessions from the EU. As a Frenchman, I wanted the British (state), with all their entitled exceptionalism, to get the hell out of a pretty nice club. Schengen, as a Frenchman (again) of Spanish descent, calling Marseille, with its hugely Greek and Italian influence, a home from home, is a beautiful thing. Aside from London via the Eurostar, as - did I mention? - a Frenchman residing in France, the UK, certainly England, leaving, would not be something I’d cry over.
But I live(d) in England. And as the reasons for that 52% vote became clear, I was appalled. Whatever you want to tell yourself about the EU being a neoliberalist wet dream, as a Labour voter you are risking the futures of the most vulnerable people in the country when you vote for what was certain to be a Tory Brexit. Tories look after their own, and will use the working class as the human shield to protect themselves - and cash in - when things take even a temporary turn for the economic worse. It’s basic stuff. You want Brexit, fine, but wait until a Labour government can give you it.
It was the Labour votes what done it. And, almost hilariously, the racists’. Because of the closeness of the result, you can be sure that the racists - “xenophobes”, if you’re of a delicate disposition and the truth hurts - tipped the balance. They’re thick, of course, because if it happens, the exodus of EU nationals will be replaced by exactly who the racists thought they’d be getting rid of: brown people.
The old adage goes that not all leave voters were racist, but all racists voted to leave. This is where I find myself now. Not a racist, of course, but someone who is bored of being angry with those who voted to leave and, starting with tearing up that sweeping received wisdom about racists at the ballot box, turning my attention to Remainers.
Ah, Remainers. Those self-satisfied, highly-educated economics experts. If you’ll forgive me for channeling Michael Gove, I think I am sick of them. Sick of their marches, sick of their patronising - Charlie Brooker’s possibly inadvertent sending up of James O’Brien on his 2016 Wipe is genius - and sick of their holier-than-thou attitude. And I’m sick of their racism.
Because not all racists voted for Brexit. There are plenty who were quite enjoying the rights of eastern European workers to come and work in the UK. Enjoying paying them wages, perhaps ostensibly minimum wage wages - though certainly not Real Living Wage wages - they’d never dream nor get away with paying Brits. And accommodating them in conditions they’d never dream nor get away with accommodating Brits in.
And now we have to hear from the fruit farmers - orally teetering piece of straw less chewed than eschewed and replaced with a powerpoint presentation on keeping wages low and margins high - telling us how lazy and uninterested in their wonderful employment opportunities British workers are. Well, you know, if your business model can’t survive employing nationals of the country you trade in, do you have a business model at all? If your job can’t compete in an employment market of Brits, why is it good enough for those who speak in a different accent? We’ve fought hard for working pay and conditions standards in this country. For all.
In fact, I heard a story a little while ago about a highly-regarded Polish temp at a UK employment agency being involved in the recruitment of a workforce for a new contract. Fair enough. A Brit registered at the agency was suggested to this gentleman, by a British consultant, and he was declined because “Trust me. It’s a waste of time. He’ll just bring problems”. Jamie Oliver has said similar things, and I may - may - be all for minorities benefitting from positive discrimination, as I guess this temp was advocating - to put it mildly - but what’s a Brit to do if his name is enough for him to be blacklisted? Vote Brexit is what.
For all the condescension from British Remainers (“Who’s going to make our coffees in Pret?!”), and arrogance from EU nationals in highly-paid jobs (“I’ve paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax to this country!”) the most remarkable revelation of why Brexit was voted for, that I’ve come across, came from someone I believe is American. And potentially trolling.
Below are the highlights of said naive American’s comments on a Facebook share of an article about a second referendum march in October of last year. I’ll leave you to decide whether or not it’s genuine...
“The parts of Britain that voted to leave...tend to be the parts of Britain that depend the most on tax revenue from the parts of Britain that voted to stay.”
“The irony is that those that are so convinced of their own lack of dependence on the EU are straight up dependent on the wealthier parts of the UK that know it is their nation’s participation in the EU that makes Britain wealthy.”
“If these moocher parts of Britain are too clueless to learn how to fruitfully exist in a 21st century economy, what makes you think they know what is best for the rest of the country that does know how to do so?”
“If the fiscally illiterate moochers want to be taken seriously, they need to stop falling for the conjobs of fiscally illiterate conmen.”
“London keeps the UK economy afloat. A simple ‘thank you’ would suffice.”
And when someone suggested her attitude may have contributed to bringing about the Trump presidency as well as Brexit…
“I didn’t vote for Trump. The moochers in red states and red regions did.”
This, we now know, is a framing issue. Ah, framing. The more palatable - and concealing - way of describing spin, manipulation and persuasion. It’s the art of getting people you think are thicker than you to do stuff you want them to do, and feel all warm about it as they do it. Until they realise they’ve actually changed your fortunes, not necessarily theirs. And these framing experts are now patronising the media over the way they’re patronising the public. Tiered patronising.
So what’s the conclusion? F*ck those who voted the UK out, and f*ck those who think they know better, including me. That’s the best I can do, I’m afraid.
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