Why the Brexit Vote is a Sign of the Rise of the Xenophobic Far-Right
On Thursday, June 23rd 2016, 51.9% of the United Kingdom (some 17.4 million people) voted to leave the European Union. The market day that followed was a bloody one with global stock markets losing $2 trillion in value in one day!! The British pound sterling plummeted to a 31-year low and a political nuclear weapon has been let loose as the First Minister of Scotland has stated that a second independence vote to break away from the United Kingdom is "highly likely" now that the U.K. has broken away from the E.U.
Much of what has driven this vote to leave the E.U. has been xenophobia against immigrants. Though you have some who wish to play that element down, despite the fact that it's obvious what's going on. The fallout is already being felt...
As the twitter image above shows (you may have to actually click the link), the youth have been disenfranchised tremendously by Brexit. As The Guardian explains, for young Britons, losing the freedom of movement that the E.U. provides means that the wide potential job market that graduates could look forward to before...is now in serious danger of being gone. According to that same site, it was the fear of the Pound collapsing that caused many young Britons to support the 'stay' side in the first place.
The image above also talks about the negative impact of this decision on the rest of the E.U. As mentioned above, there's the Scotland factor. However post-Brexit, there are already politicians from all around the European Union calling for their own respective referendums! The far-right in both France and Denmark have endorsed leaving the E.U. and a celebrated philosopher in France said the country would probably vote to leave the E.U. if there were ever a referendum.
In the days after the Brexit vote, there is now a Regrexit counter-movement that is giving voice to the fact that there are still 48% of Britons who did not want to leave the E.U. More than 2.6 million Britons have signed a petition demanding a 2nd referendum and there have been post-Brexit protests around the country.
As it says all over the website, Black and Intellectual stands with millennials as this is a platform for millennials. The millennials in this case, by a sizeable majority, wanted to remain in the European Union.
The above video shows you that there is a major "minority" in the U.K. that voted to stay who are not too happy about what has happened. They, like many Bernie Sanders supporters, cringe at the sight of the rise of the right-wing. Not only in the U.K., but everywhere. France, Greece, Denmark...America and elsewhere. The common theme across the board when it comes to the far-right appears to be hyper-nationalism and xenophobia expressing itself via the desire to keep out the "other." This seems to eerily harken back to a time when "race-mixing" wasn't allowed and people believed in silly notions of "racial purity." Some may say I'm reading too much into this, but very subtly at the base of most fears against immigrants lies a psychological will to not mix with said group.
Many Britons like Tom Hamilton writing for Salon.com have expressed their discontent online and are calling out the far-right elements in their nation. He explains that many Brexiters felt disenfranchised from politics and that the Leave campaign used this sentiment along with their feelings towards income inequality, immigration, housing, etc - twisted it - then turned around and said that it was all because of the European Union. Hamilton says, "This will be remembered as a foolish, overzealous, Icarus moment." He also states that he believes this is a victory for the far-right across Europe and for tribalism and a rejection of evidence-based policy.
It's obvious many people were duped into being a Brexiter and didn't fully understand the ramifications of the decision they were making. It's not until AFTER the votes had been cast that many Britons began searching Google asking, "What Is The EU?"
Maya Goodfellow writing for Media Diversified seems to express a similar reaction to the Brexit vote as Tom Hamilton. She states that she has never felt less welcomed in the United Kingdom and that the face of Brexit is that of the UKIP leader who she says echoes hateful, divisive and xenophobic politics. Goodfellow also seems to agree in thinking with the twitter picture above when she states that there "was no significant left-wing campaign to leave the E.U." The far-right in France, led by Marine Le Pen, has also celebrated the results. That should be all you need to know.
No one is saying that if you support Brexit either in the U.K. or abroad, then that makes you a far-right wing racist xenophobe. However, there ARE far-right elements within the Brexit movement and based on what Britons themselves are saying...it seems to be a very dominant element. We cannot and should not ignore the anti-immigrant, anti-other, far-right factor simply because we don't want to call people out on their xenophobia. You have a lot of people who feel like race is talked about too much, so they avoid discussing it when it comes to stories where it needs to be discussed.
The Black left, and American progressives in general of all races, should continue to pay close attention to the global rise of neo-fascism and right-wing xenophobia.