“If you’ve got money, you vote in. If you haven’t got money, you vote out.” —Manchester working-class woman
EU FOR DUMMIES LIKE ME: The European Union was invented by France and Germany, who wanted to ensure their two countries would never go to war against each other again. It grew to 28 countries. EU’s Parliament in Brussels is a faceless slash-and-burn bureaucracy that loves to cut ordinary people’s wages and social benefits.
The gut issue for many Brits is “immigration,” or the free movement of labor and goods inside this “Common Market.” For example, Poles and Hungarians can work in the U.K., lowering wages or helping the economy, take your choice. Britons can travel abroad without border controls, a boon especially to the young who like Euro friendships. Under Labour’s Tony Blair, the U.K. opened its gates to the greatest mass migration since the Anglo-Saxon invasion. Older Brits resent, and are scared of, being crowded out of hospitals, schools, jobs and housing. Even though London now has a Muslim mayor, Muslims tend to be slower to assimilate than “Christian” migrants.
Lame-duck prime minister David Cameron gambled on a referendum to squash dissent in his ranks and lost. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was anti-Euro until he wasn’t; his performance has been dismal.
London, the financial capital full of young people who like to mix races, voted Remain, as did Scotland and Northern Ireland. Traditionally radical Wales voted Out. De-industrialized England, north of Hackney and south of Hadrian’s wall, voted Out.
Like it or not, the referendum was by a slim majority Britain’s defiant exercise of democracy. Voting was astonishingly high. Nigel Farage, Britain’s Donald Trump (now that Boris Johnson has been backstabbed into oblivion), rides high. Trump loves the Out vote. As do other racists and across-the-board righties.
History note: The Empire Windrush was a ship that in the postwar 1940s brought hundreds of black Jamaicans to Britain to work the war-depleted hospitals and transport. Most of them settled in poor white working-class neighborhoods, including mine in Notting Hill, already under strain. Some whites grumbled then rioted. Top Labour and Conservative politicians, who lived a comfortable distance from newly immigrant neighborhoods, accused unhappy whites of lacking “liberal values.”
Tony Blair and his wife between them own 10 houses and 27 flats. David Cameron says he doesn’t know how many homes he has, probably four if not more.