Who voted against Brexit?

The number one category of anti-Brexiteer was (is) really a social heterarchy[1] of special interest groups (SIG) who felt (but did not actually know) that their SIG was threatened in some, usually undefined, way. The second major category included those who felt that Brexit was a vote against unfettered internationalism which they believe in.

Thus about 40,000 academics voted against Brexit, something like 95:5 on the basis of “feel” about their grants for travel and research, both for themselves and supposedly for students coming from the EU to study or research in British universities.

Yet the great majority of researchers from overseas are from the English-speaking world ABCANZ[2] mainly, but also quite a few from the former British Empire in Asia – India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya – where English is the natural language of business and post graduate education. All of these are unaffected by Brexit, except possibly to make entry to Britain easier.

As this writer knows from professional experience, all people coming from these countries to a job in British universities go through the same process of getting (and renewing in some cases) a job permit for a stay of longer than 12 months. I have yet to hear why the much smaller numbers from the EU countries should be exempt from this requirement, or why British universities, unlike other large employers, would find it so difficult to arrange.

For EU undergraduate students the matter is somewhat different for one and one reason only. This is the fact that EU students not only pay the UK Home Fee rate (of £6,000-£9,000 per annum) rather than the overseas rate of anything from £15,000-£20,000 per annum for science and medical degrees, but also benefit from the student loan scheme of up to £40,000. That most of these loans to East European students in particular are not being paid back is indicated by the fact that the UK Treasury has been trying for some time now to sell off its student loan book at a 50% discount of its nominal value, i.e. they aim only to get back half of what has been paid out, in a scheme which has been running for only 4 years.

How many of the EU students will continue to come to the UK when they have to pay the full overseas student rate and lose access to the student loan scheme is difficult to say, given the availability of undergraduate courses conducted in the English language in the Netherlands for about £2,500 per annum. The chances are that the numbers from Poland, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Spain, Hungary and Bulgaria (46,000 in 2015) will drop by about three quarters and the other EU student numbers (60,000) by about half. So universities may have a shortfall of about 62,000 out of nearly 1.5 million, or about 4%, which the better ones could easily make up from non-EU sources (and be paid twice as much for), as some universities are doing right now.

Hardly a reason for emoting against Brexit as one individual (Monica Grady of the Open University) did on BBC Question Time (12th January 2017).

The Referendum Choice

What the referendum was directly about was a choice between two alternative systems of governing our country. In one alternative the democratically elected part of British Parliament becomes again the supreme source of law and government in Britain in all matters, as it was up to 1973.

In the other alternative, which has applied in Britain since 1973, the appointed European Commission is the principal source of government and law in Britain for international trade, immigration, energy, agriculture, fishing, the environment, and business regulation. European Law, as interpreted by the European Court of Justice[3] is supreme over the national Law of the EU member states, including British Law.

Alternative one is what defines sovereignty for even the smallest state – a property shared by all but the 28 EU member states of the 194 members of the United Nations – the 28 including of course Britain at present.

Every one of the people spoken to on the streets and doorsteps by this canvasser, who indicated a preference for voting to leave the EU, understood the choice quite clearly. It was the “Remainers” who were muddled: confusing immigration, trade, tariffs, tourism, being “shut out of Europe”, and so on.

Give British Democracy a Chance

Basically the “Remainers” seem to show no faith in Britain, British democracy, and British freedoms, which we have exported to 53 other nations in the world – actually set up 52 of them and influenced many others.

What we heard during the Referendum Campaign and are still hearing from assorted SIGs – university scientists, corporate business leaders, lawyers, the City of London – to name but four, are repeated fears about possible immigration restrictions, trade restrictions, Britain becoming anti-foreigner” in some unspecified way after Brexit.

But Parliament and elections will still be there, enhanced in fact by the regaining of powers over those six areas of our national business over which the EU has “exclusive competence” as they call it (an inaccurate translation of the French which is still the interpretative authority language of the EU Treaties). Nothing, but nothing, is for ever, for a country not in the EU. Should the present government introduce immigration controls on EU nationals which are not to the liking of one or more SIGs for example, they can seek to modify or even reverse them in the usual British democratic way – through the ballot box at a General Election.

The people who do the work of the world – factory workers, delivery men, soldiers, electricians, plumbers, farmers, engineers, retail workers, bin-men, salesmen and many other categories – understand this fundamental fact very well. It is the educated wordsmiths, especially officials and academics, who have a problem, confusing their special interests with the national interest, seeing complexity of process where simplicity of purpose should rule, emoting about people in the abstract, people they have never met, but ignoring, even disparaging the distress of their own kith and kin who see their country transformed by unelected SIGs seemingly identical in outlook to EU officials in Brussels.

End notes

[1] Heterarchy: a network of socio-economic entities, distinct from one another, but sharing one or more societal beliefs and lifestyles.

[2] ABCANZ: America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, allies in NATO and in Echelon, the world’s most important intelligence network.

[3] European Court of Justice at Luxembourg which is part of the 28 member EU is quite distinct from the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg which derives from the 47 member Council of Europe.

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