Brexit big issues for a lot of people.

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Brexit big issues for a lot of people.

Brexit was a multidimensional argument with may people
voting different ways for different reasons, however sovereignty, immigration
and trade were three key big issues for a lot of people. Although people may
have held long term views on all of these issues already a lot of people would
have been looking at current circumstances and which side offered better
prospects, circumstances such as current levels of inequality and the economy
and austerity as well as the migration crisis and worries about that’s
potential impacts. Combine this with the leaders of each campaign and their
campaign messages and people felt they had a better chance outside the EU. Overall
for many leave voters discontent for there current circumstances and a lack of
information and knowledge about the EU and its functions were translated into
leave votes by populist party’s and leaders offering a solution, whether or not
it works we are waiting to see.

Trade was another big topic throughout the EU referendum, this
is arguably where leaving the EU could have the most positive impacts in the
long term however this was widely debated, and no one could know for certain
however most predicted and expected an economic downturn in the immediate
however to what degree was also debated. Britain out of the EU would be free to
create bilateral trade deals with whatever and multiple countries which could
be more beneficial than the ones the EU make, on the flip side countries may
not be that keen to do these trade deals and often they can take years, often
multilateral deals are preferred to multiple bilateral deals and the EU single
market offers a much larger market than the UK alone. The UK would also have to
renegotiate deals with countries that had been made with the EU, “The EU has
878 bilateral agreements and 268 multilateral treaties with third countries,
according to the EU treaty database” (McClean, 2017). The UK would also
be able to import cheaper goods potentially bringing down the price for
consumers however company’s and businesses may no longer invest in the UK as it
does not have access to the single market with Britain often referred to as the
doorway to Europe (Bird, 2015).
However for many people the complexities of world trade would not have
mattered, it came down to more the way the arguments were delivered and by who.
The Vote Leave campaign offered a much more optimistic outlook in trade post
Brexit than the Remain campaign did which focused much more on the consequences
of not staying in. Combined with who delivered these arguments, Boris Johnson
the popular London mayor and Nigel Farage the populist political outsider
offering hope in times of austerity compared to David Cameron and George
Osbourne predicting economic downturn even after years of dishing out cuts. For
many people they felt they had nothing to lose by voting for Brexit and that it
might even make things better (Clarke, et al., 2017). This can be seen by
voting patterns with poorer areas especially in the North and midlands voting
in higher proportion leave.

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Nigel Farage continuing to play on anti-immigration
sentiments used this to create a widely criticised sign stating, “breaking
point: the EU has failed us all” above a picture of a migrant que crossing the
border (Stewart, 2106). For those that do
not see or know the wider picture this would have been a worrying sign. Although
a majority of people voted on the basis of immigration a lot of those who did,
did not have much experience with immigration and its impacts with areas voting
Leave in the highest proportions often having some of the lowest levels of
immigration and areas with high levels of immigration often voting more
strongly for remain (Lawton & Ackrill, 2016). This is most likely
due to the constant negative information they where being told about them and a
lack of experience to counter this. This led to a built-up fear of what the
consequences of increasing migration could do to their area which translated
into leave votes. Immigration does have its impacts especially when governments
fail to accommodate high levels, local services can be put under strain such as
school place and housing, these would still be under pressure however due to
poor funding and government policy on housing. Although immigration was not so
much part of the official Vote Leave campaign it was still a big part of the
debate and heavily campaigned by UKIP.

When immigration
was talked about in the Brexit debate people generally thought of eastern
Europeans and relatively unskilled migrants coming to do low paid jobs or
benefit scroungers, however many migrants come and fill skill gaps for the UK
such as nurses and elderly care (Bale, 2017, pp.
327-345).
As well as this, right-wing news outlets and Eurosceptic Politian’s and party’s
lead people to hugely over estimate the number of migrants in their country and
the actual impact they have this is particularly true for both France and the
UK (Bale, 2017, p. 334). There are 3.7
million EU citizens living in the UK around 6% of the population, EU
nationals of working age are more likely to be in work than UK
nationals and non-EU citizens. About 82% of working age EU citizens in the UK
are in work, compared to around 75% of UK nationals (FullFact, 2017). This data presents a different image
of immigrants and their contribution to UK society. Unfortunately, however with
worsening austerity and inequality Euro sceptics used immigration as an outlet
for people to blame their situation on. Around the same time as the build up to
the EU referendum the 2015-16 migrant crisis was at a peak with immigrant
arriving through land and sea, Germany decided to take in close to 1 million
asylum seekers in 2015 for many different reasons (Guardian, 2015), this was a big concern to many people
living in the UK as they worried these people would be a drain on the economy
and a security threat as many of them were labelled as terrorist secretly
trying to enter into Europe. This worried many UK citizens especially with the
high news coverage of both the migrant crisis and war-torn Syria and the
atrocities committed by ISIS.

Immigration was
arguably the biggest point of discussion and debate during the referendum and
for a lot of people the deciding factor, whether that was made on facts or
misleading information and fear, “33%
stated their main reason for voting Leave was because it “offered the best
chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders”” (Lawton & Ackrill, 2016). Immigration even
when not involved in the EU referendum was a contentious subject and one that
held fears before the referendum even began, with pledges being made in both
the 2010 and 2015 conservative manifestos to cut immigration to the tens of
thousands (Stone, 2017). Freedom of movement
is a key and founding principle of the EU it allows any citizens of the EU to
live and work in any of the other EU country and be entitled to the equal
treatment with nationals in employment, working conditions and all other social
and tax advantages (European Commission , n.d.).

Although there is
a case for the EU eroding national sovereignty, with one of the EUs main goals
being an ever more politically and economically integrated union and supranational
bodies that can overrule state policy’s or laws. (Bale, 2017, p. 53). It is often in the
states interest to follow laws or policies set out by these bodies as they are
in national interest, such as the climate change policy that is much better
managed on a transnational scale rather than regional. Overall sovereignty was
a key argument for the leave campaign especially when trying to win votes from
disillusioned older voters and it ties in nicely with the two other points on
trade and money and immigration with control on how we spend are “350 million
each week” and “let’s take back control of our borders” (Rentoul, 2016).

Boris Johnson was
a key leader for the Vote Leave campaign and his focus was on hammering home
the idea of sovereignty taking control back and trade, the popularity of Boris
Johnson was found to have a significant impact on which way you voted
especially if you liked Boris. The same goes for Farage and his appeal
especially to older white men (Clarke, et al., 2017).

There is clear
evidence that there where divides between generations and age in which side you
voted on in the EU referendum (Goodwin & Heath , 2016), the argument about
sovereignty appealed much more to older voters who were part of the post war
baby boomers generation and generally have a much more nationalistic view
compared to younger generations who increasingly saw themselves much more as Europeans
and British rather than just British. This and a combination of a lack of
education and knowledge of the workings of the EU and its governing structure
meant many of them felt a general threat on UK sovereignty especially based on
the propaganda they were receiving from Vote Leave and right-wing Newspapers.
Among the older generation less hold degrees as less people went to university
than the record numbers nowadays, combined with the main form of information
coming from select newspapers and television rather than varied multimedia
internet sources meant they were receiving a much more biased and select set of
information that was generally misleading.

Sovereignty,
since the 1992 Maastricht Treaty Euro skeptics have argued for another
referendum based on the grounds of what they saw as an invasion on UK sovereignty,
as the treaty laid the founding for further political and economic union (BBC, 1992). This they argued
was not part of the 1975 referendum to stay in or leave the European Economic
Community EEC. In the EU referendum in 2016 “Take Control” was a key slogan for
the Vote Leave campaign (The Economist, 2016). This was a big
issue for a lot of people especially those that had been left behind
economically by years of austerity and the financial crash as well as worsening
levels of health in the build up to the referendum (BMJ, 2016), the idea of taking
back control appealed to this part of the electorate who felt underrepresented
by the main political forces and elite. This feeling of little representation
can be applied to the rapid growth of UKIP (UK Independence Party) which “seems
to have struck a chord with disenchanted voters from the “big three”.” (Hunt, 2014). The reason UKIP was
set up and its main goal was to secure Brexit, it was often seen as a one-man
party with its populist leader Nigel Farage being a key figure in the Brexit
debate. Since the Brexit referendum UKIP has lost a lot of support and failed to
diverge into a more mainstream party due to both the loss of its leader Farage
who has since been replaced by multiple leaders since his resignation and its
failure to broaden its politics to governing the country. Part of UKIPs
campaigning strategy was to direct the dissatisfaction of the current political
climate towards what they described as the bureaucratic unelected elites of
Brussels. By aiming the dissatisfaction of these people towards the EU they are
fuelling Euroscepticism and taking the blame away from the people it should be
aimed at, the national government as they are the ones who make the policy,
control expenditure and laws which most greatly affect them.

The proposed
reforms where meant to form part of Cameron’s campaign to stay in the EU, the
referendum was taken on the 23rd of June 2016 and the results were 51.9%
for leave and 48.1% for remain a small 4% majority for leave. Although the
result was not legally binding Article 50 was triggered on March the 29th
by Theresa May, starting the two-year leaving process, we are currently in. The
purpose of this essay is to explore why a majority voted leave.

The EU referendum vote was one of David Cameron’s pledges in
his campaign to be prime minister in 2015, this was mainly to get all his party
behind him and essentially a deal between him and the Euro sceptics of his
party for their support. As well as trying to draw back votes tory MPs feared they
were losing votes to the rising UKIP party (Wright & Cooper, 2016). Polls also
indicated a tight or losing margin for David Cameron in the run up to the 2015
election, so he needed a united supporting party. David Cameron himself was a remainer
a term used for people wanting to remain in the EU, he was one of the key
figures of the remain campaign. Before announcing the EU referendum vote he
went on a tour of the European countries in a bid to try and get a better deal
for the UK, his main goals were to return or keep UK sovereignty, curb
migration and welfare benefits, safeguarding interests of countries outside the
eurozone (essentially making sure countries not using the euro were in no way
materially disadvantaged and to stop the UK from contributing to eurozone
bailouts) and competitiveness (deregulation of internal market to make it more
competitive) (BBC, 2016).
The success of these reforms where largely debated with David Cameron stating
“this deal had delivered on the commitments I made at the beginning of this
renegotiation process”, however there were many critics of Mr Cameron’s
proposed reform a lot were from right wing newspapers such as the Daily Mail
and Telegraph, the Daily Mail labelled it “The Great Delusion” and the
Telegraph saying it was “a slap in the face for Britain (ITV News, 2016) (Wilkinson, 2016). But there where also critics from
amongst his own party, with Boris Johnson saying “I don’t think anyone could realistically claim
this is a fundamental reform of the EU or of Britain’s relationship with EU,”.As
well as the Euro skeptics and leave supporters those on the remain side also
saw it as a failure or the ground working for Brexit, with Jeremy Corbyn
stating the proposed reforms as “largely Irrelevant” and a “theatrical
sideshow” (Mason, 2016).

During the EU membership referendum many arguments were
made, the main arguments where about sovereignty, trade and immigration. I
believe the majority voted leave due to dissatisfaction with their political
representation and institutions, current economic circumstances after years of
austerity and rightly or wrongly held fears about immigration levels. Popular
figure heads and more clean-cut campaign messages with greater appeal also led
to a majority leave vote.

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