I was part of the 48% of the country that wanted to remain because although the EU wasn't perfect; the problems it faced were all of ours to bare. I can imagine there is shock across europe with many outsiders wondering how does such a big and multicultural nation that played such a prominent role in the EU suddenly vote to leave based mostly on issues of immigration?
The truth however is not so simple so here's a glimpse of why people say they voted out.
Firstly Britain leaving was something even David Cameron did not see coming otherwise he would never have even offered the referendum. Now he faces the prospect of going down in history as being the prime minister that broke up the united kingdom with Scotland wanting to leave in a referendum vote which never needed to happen. He was so sure that it would be a debate he could swiftly put to bed to silence his eurosceptic critics and win an easy second term in office. He took a gamble in the short-term to win over the faction who voted UKIP and it proved a gamble too far for a man who has rarely listened to his people while in office. For so long this has been the problem in British politics; our leaders are completely out of touch with what is happening to the country and have so little regard for their roles they willingly ignore the problems of their people fearing no repercussions. This tension has been building for years with austerity cut after cut, wages falling and not keeping inline with living standards and the people needed only an outlet to let rip. Cameron gave this through the mistake of giving the people a choice on such a crucial matter of economics that they were unqualified to decide on.
So Here is 6 reasons why I believe Britain voted out:
People have been complaining of communities changing "overnight" with influxes of immigrants coming in to an area and literally turning it on its head. Political correctness which stops people from speaking out about this change out of fear of being branded a racist has warped fear into outright resentment and anger at the establishment for imposing this on communities. British people for the most part are not racist and welcome immigration - but the feeling is it needs to be controlled and gradual to allow adjustment not just for people joining but people living there too. Deluded is probably the best way to describe our politicians today as they don't live in towns or areas that tend to be exposed to such changes so brushing it aside is easier for them. For most people unfortunately, the working class, people in these areas they have to live it and see it everyday at schools as they contend for places, housing which is in such short supply and the NHS which is a complete shambles in response times and care. Coupled with the fear mongering media, the pressure began to build on this topic especially for the older generation who have seen their country change so dramatically it is no surprise then that the majority of people over the age of 45 voted to leave.
2) The terrorist attacks have not helped.
The terror attacks have turned even tolerant people into sceptics about integration. The syrian crisis has been a catalyst for fear to begin to build and their target has shifted towards one religion in particular. Everyday for what appears like years the media have been showing thousands upon thousands of migrants, mostly from islamic backgrounds travel across and head west. Coupled with fear of more attacks like the 7/7 London attacks, people watched on as France and Belgium came under siege. People somehow believed the notion that free movement in the EU was the issue and placing us at risk and this is why immigration was such a key sticking point the remain camp had no way of shifting.
3) - The EU has forgotten its core identity is based on peace and cohesion.
You can think of the EU as a cartel or monopoly now. The EU was formed to foster peace across Europe after two great wars and it has done a great job of ensuring this among its members. Gradually it's power has increased into other areas and its reluctance to adapt to the will of the member states as fears on immigration increased is what has created this resentment towards it. Trade should always be made as easy as possible in europe to foster cohesion regardless if a country is part of the EU or not. Now however it has become an elite club which either you are in or out of. It is a club that everyone needs to fall inline with or suffer the consequences and already they are talking about punishing Britain for leaving to "set an example".
Making the life of a country as difficult as possible is what triggered the second world war as the Germans themselves became resentful for a broken economy and country too heavily punished with reparations. History is on the verge of repeating itself if EU member states want to try and do the same with Britain. Punishing a country for wanting its independence is not what the EU is about but they have lost that focus completely.
4) - The Conservative Government Kept The Rich Rich & Poor Poor.
Coming back to my first point, the exit of the EU is firmly on the foot of the Conservative party who so erroneously believed they were elected on their own merits completely. They were elected because they were perceived to be the best of a bad bunch and nothing more but they appeared to have missed this. With the issues on immigration bubbling and Labour being seen as responsible for the open door policy on immigration in the first place, the Conservatives were elected due to David Cameron being the only one to promise he could bring this down - a promise that was unrealistic to say the least as net migration was at record levels of up to 333'000. The people's voices and dissent began to get louder as the benefits of EU membership were only being felt in London and "professional" jobs. Millions remained completely ostracized as they watch on television what the British lifestyle should be like and experiencing none of it. This became even more apparent when the Panama papers revealed a host of wealthy leaders including Cameron's father held interests offshore. The wealth was certainly not trickling down in Britain and the symptoms of inequality were being felt with the top 1% having the same wealth as the poorest 57% combined.
5) Social mobility was destroyed.
Education is what drives social mobility and allows people the opportunities to be from any background and move up the ladder. Education and an understanding of how the economy works and why it is in our interests to remain is what would have kept us in the EU. Unfortunately the conservatives made education as expensive and unaffordable as possible not realising they were shooting themselves in the foot in the long-term. University fee's shot up to £9k per year. Interest rates on loan repayments also shot up which was against the original agreements meaning many people now had a loan to pay for over half their adult working lives. An educated nation that gets to experience the benefits of free movement, working across in other countries or working for multi-nationals from other countries is what will allow people to learn and see first hand the benefits of EU integration. It's hard to be angry at the EU when you're benefitting from it but 52% of the country feel like they weren't. That speaks volumes and if you compare the working background of such voters I am willing to wager these votes came from people who were generally low wage earners. An interesting article by in the guardian highlights this point.
6) It was in protest - The country is fed up.
The country has been fed up for a long time. Not just at all the things above but with so many things wrong that appear to have gotten worse with no direction. The cost of living has risen, tax has risen on everything, council tax rises, train fare rises, fuel is still higher than it should be, benefits have been cut massively, the NHS has been cut, people can't get appointments to see doctors, working people are subsidising people on benefits as a culture of "benefit Britain" appears to continue due to a lack of social mobility, promises were broken repeatedly so it was about time something happened. So fed up were people at the establishment that they decided to take everyone down with them. The phrase "misery loves company" perfectly sums up the attitude of a lot of people who voted out just to show their dissatisfaction by going against the grain.
Saj Devshi writes in his spare time - you can catch him here where he helps GCSE psychology students across the UK.