Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory leader, has passionately argued that we need to leave the EU as it is the cause of massive social inequality, favouring the “haves” over the “have-nots”. Notably, wages become depressed while the cost of living rises.
The BBC and others in the media have been shocked that this argument could come out of Brexiteers’ mouths. Yet anyone who has come to a UKIP meeting (famously formed to make Brexit happen back in 1993) in the past fifteen years will have found that the first thing out of most Ukippers’ mouths is not “Pakis out!” or “Nig-nigga-noggymoor, negro kill woggymore”. Rather, you will have found normal people from the surrounding community, of all races and nationalities, upset with Labour and Tories for repeatedly letting them down, worried about crime and local services closing, a lack of housing, and a lack of properly paid jobs.
Middle class types scoff at these things. They say that immigration is not “zero sum”; incomers don’t take up all the jobs, but rather help boost the economy which creates wealth and jobs. And of course, they are right that wealth and jobs are created by immigration. But that doesn’t alter the facts that wages become depressed by an additional supply of labour which offers its service at a lower rate, and this causes a decreased supply of housing relative to demand which inevitably leads to higher house prices. Saying that the problem has been caused by governments who have failed to build enough houses or hospitals misses the point: demand cannot reasonably keep up with suppy given the numbers of people coming in (net).
Brexiters like me love Europe, but hate the EU. My wife is from the EU, for heaven’s sakes! But the EU is not Europe. Social injustice has always been at the heart of Brexiteers’ worries about the EU. And when people voice these concerns, they are lambasted as Tory toffs or council estate Sun reading scum!
As Boris Johnson has powerfully and correctly argued, it is the Brexiteers who represent liberal democratic values, not the EU.
© Bryan A. J. Parry
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