In June the UK has decided to part with the EU. The “Leave the EU” campaign has won against the “Stay in the EU” in a referendum that will change the course of history and is perhaps the biggest expression of new-age protectionism.
There is a lot to be said about the Brexit, but one thing is for certain. It has caught economists and political experts in awe. No one, including the British Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, thought the Leave campaign would sweep the United Kingdom in the way it did. The British Sterling has dropped almost 5% in one day against all other currencies to reflect that surprise, and international transfers from UK to USA have dropped by 10% in volume almost instantly.
A lot of things have been said about the political shenanigans on both sides of the Leave/Stay debate, on how the Leave campaign was a lot more organized and powerful than the Stay campaign, the lackluster response by the prime minister, and the overconfidence demonstrated by the Stay campaigners; Not enough has been said about the underlying reasons that made the majority of UK citizens to opt out of the strongest economic union in the world into what is likely to be doom and gloom to British economy.
One main reason was simple mis-information. There were thousands of economists from the UK and from outside of it that have voiced their opinion and shared their forecasts regarding the day after Brexit. Each side used the forecasts that had the best fit to its agenda. The UK/EU relationship is highly complex and difficult to explain, so each side provided its own simplified, one-sided version. Another strong example of misinformation was the claim made by the Leave campaigners in regard to £350m freed up each week that could be used to bring the NHS back on its feet, that was ultimately debunked by experts.
Another prominent reason for the Brexit decision was the issue of immigration. This is a part of a global anti-immigration wave of hate. Like other wealthy nations, the British nation is polarized and there are growing voices in regards to blocking immigration, alongside other signs of bigots and racism. In the UK specifically, it has been claimed that Polish workers are taking British jobs, and that Brexit will limit the access of such cheap labor into the UK.
When you have a strong basis of misinformation and lack of the basic understanding of the concept of belonging to a trade union, fueled by fear of immigrants, you can turn things around. The once liberal British nation was overtaken by people like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, who have misinformed those residing in rural areas and senior citizens.
What can we learn from Brexit? That it’s easy to sell dreams and hopes to the public. Especially struggling public who feel they are being looked down. The truth doesn’t mean as much as it used to do. Just look at the American president Donald Trump who has very little regard to what’s objectively correct when he comes out with statements.