Understanding Brexit: Causes Rather Than Rumours

Understanding Brexit: Causes Rather Than Rumours

Since the referendum of Brexit, lots of rumours have emerged. Since the people of the Britain voted for “Leave”, agenda has been occupied with the scenarios that intended to answer the question “What’s next?”. At this point, in order to understand Brexit better, we need to focus on the mainsprings that caused Brexit, rather than the scenarios whose precisions cannot be tested. While focusing on this causality, simplification is important in this hot debate because as Karl Marx said: “Formulation of a question is its solution.”

United Kingdom has joined to European Community whose roots are from the Treaty of Rome in 1957. It is beneficial to note that, in 1975, a European Community referendum has been made.  The result of the referendum which was in the era of Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, was 66% “Yes” for remaining in the European Community.  In 1993, UK was one of the EU members that signed Maastricht Treaty, and one of the most powerful economies within the EU countries in the beginning of the 21st century. Because of this, UK is an attractive country for immigration. In addition to its economic conditions, easier standards on work and residence permit, made UK is one of the top destination countries for immigrants in the EU. This magnet effect, on the other hand, has created a xenophobia. We can list two driving forces as a consequence of xenophobia that have led UK to Brexit.

  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union, EU’s expansion policy to the Eastern Europe in the 21st century
  • After the 2008 financial crisis, drawbacks about European “Union” due to lack of fiscal discipline

Firstly, EU has fronted to Eastern Europe as a consequence of its expansion policy in the early 2000’s. One of the top destinations of the Eastern European countries that switched to better conditions, was UK. When we observe the demographic situation before the Brexit, Poles have the highest population strictly so far as a foreign born people living in the UK. By the 2015, proportion of foreign born population / total population was 12%. (Commonwealth citizens are included as foreign born people.) As it can be seen in the table, there are hundreds of thousands of people from Eastern Europe in the UK and, EU’s expansion policy is the mainspring of this situation.

Another data is about percentage of people in Britain perceive the immigration issue as a ‘problem’. Research findings show that in 2015, 45% percent of the Brits identified ‘immigration/race relations’ as a top issue facing the country, 77% percent of Brits today believe that immigration levels into the country should be reduced.

In short, it can be concluded that mainspring which triggered Brexit and caused a reaction against the idea of European “Union” in Britain, is xenophobia. Beside, 2008 financial crisis and Greece’s situation, caused serious drawbacks in Britain about the European Union in terms of cost/benefit of remaining as a member state of the EU. Although immigration issue is a mainspring, today’s hot debate on Brexit is based on the future of the British economy. At this point, for cabinet of the UK, there are two options on the table in terms of economic relations with EU: hard or soft Brexit. Although these two terms are popular in today’s Brexit ‘rumours’, the only decision maker on this issue is not just the cabinet of the UK, the opinion of the EU is also important.

Furkan Demirbaş



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