You have most likely heard the tale of Hansel and Gretel. But have you hear the Brexit version?
We have familiarity, represented by a home in the woods situated within EU borders. It is inhabited by a number of people agitated by the likes of high unemployment levels, low wages, the benefits system and long waiting lists for a free GP appointment (etc.) An EU referendum is announced to take place, via a TV news channel. The intrigued inhabitants decide to explore outside the familiarity of their home, to decipher whether life outside the EU would leave them better off. Out of a deep feeling of distrust towards British politicians, they leave a trail of reasons reminding them why life is not so bad inside the EU. Suddenly, a giant bird flaps onto the scene - in the form of Nigel Farage - and devours each reason left behind.
Now lost and ideologically vulnerable, the inhabitants are drawn to a house covered with Union Jacks and rip outs from right-wing newspapers, blaming immigration for each of the various resentments they have. A blonde haired man, visible through the glass window, entices them in. Unfortunately, the story does not end with the inhabitants shoving the inconsistent, hypocritical anti-immigration rhetoric into an oven. But then again, most modern day adaptions tend to feature an anti-climatic twist.
JUNE 23rd - In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, Britain's political tectonic plates have shifted into a period of expected uncertainty with no post-Brexit plan in sight. When a difference of 3.8 per cent separates those who voted leave and those who voted remain, a number of people have blamed the manipulative, anti-immigration rhetoric waged by a number of right-wing news outlets for tipping the scale. And an increase in hate-crimes, such as the graffiti allegedly found at the front entrance of the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith early Sunday morning, are feared to be linked to the aftermath of voting leave. But behind the protests and endless petitions for a second referendum, how far is racism to blame for the Brexit vote?
THE RISE OF NATIONALISM IN AMERICA
The rise of Trump-ideology across the states seems to have unlocked a closet full of skinhead, anti-immigrant nationalists in the United Kingdom. But how far could a rallying movement for patriotism across the North Atlantic Ocean be influencing British politics? Considerably. In the predicted chaos immediately following the referendum results, Donald Trump emerged in the highlands of Scotland voicing his support for the people that "want to take their country back". Despite all odds, he found signal to prove on yet another occasion why he does not deserve the Internet.
Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016
It appears Trump's political adviser failed to mention Scotland decisively voted to remain inside the EU and that out of a sheer discontentment, they now seek another independence referendum. Nevertheless, this type of 'make Britain great again' rhetoric casts a worryingly light over the legitimacy of a vote in the hands of the ignorant.
NEWSPAPERS & BLAME CULTURE
There is a growing consensus that a number of right-wing news outlets - aligning themselves with the leave campaign - prevented their readers from making an informed, fact-based decision. The Sun for example, a traditionally Eurosceptic paper, endorsed Brexit and called for their 40 million readers to 'BeLEAVE' in Britain, without providing the balanced, fact checked argument to do so. Instead, snappy headlines that systematically featured an anti-immigration rhetoric skewed the debate.
"Britain will be magnet for terrorists if we remain in EU" [via]
"Jihadis ARE exploiting refugee crisis to smuggle militants across Europe" [via]
"Migrant crisis could see 'populist uprising' spread across Europe with some carrying 'terrorist virus'" [via]
Europe will 'soon have more Muslims than Christians' [via]
"YOU CAN'T ROMANIA HERE" [via]
"More than 700,000 Turks 'will flock to live and work in Britain after country joins EU'" [via]
Selective picking was no coincidence. One of the prominent arguments proposed to leave the EU was based on regaining border control. In line with the Schengen Agreement, the EU's open inter-state border system allows free flow into and around nations. Linking the unfolding migrant crisis to the rise of homegrown terrorism across Europe played on people's fears.
However, the people that voted leave solely to curb immigration are set to be disappointed. Anti-immigration propaganda failed to emphasise that departing from the EU would not necessarily curb immigration. Even conservative MP Nigel Evans admitted there was "some misunderstanding" and that there would be no significant fall in immigration, post-Brexit.
"Who would be happy if we left?" - David Cameron
PM David Cameron predicted the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, would favour the divisiveness of a Brexit vote. And the announcement Britain would be leaving the EU almost immediately triggered praise from ISIS supporters, who proceeded to promote attacks on high-profile European capitals, such as Berlin and Brussels, to destabilise what is left of the EU.
The EU has failed us all. pic.twitter.com/Lb7txUghar— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 16, 2016
Ironically, anti-immigration press attention could counteractively lead to the type of homegrown terrorism its readers are seeking to prevent. While there appears to be no single reason to account for what leads a person onto the path of extremism, there is a close-knit relationship between marginalisation and radicalisation.
So the question is, did anti-immigration rhetoric sway the vote?