I am not English nor xenophobic and I approve the Brexit.
That shouldn’t be possible.
Today I am shocked, shocked to discover that among my friends, I am the only one who approves the Brexit. I am French, you see, and it’s as if all non-Brits have to cheer for them to remain in the European Union.
But I don’t. I don’t see why exactly I should wish for them to stay. I’m an Europeist, mind you, I dream of a unified federation, a super-country, but simply not like this. In the past thirty years, where have European policies taken us? They have taken us to a place that has a name : neoliberalism.
Now every big change is turned towards finance and banks and they have to be protected at all costs, even if the average citizen is the loser in the end. What has been the response of the UE to the financial crisis? Did it blame banks as the culprits? No. It has done nothing to change the way banks operate, preferring instead to punish Greece and all European citizens with austerity, which so many analysts now say has had no positive effect at all. Some went as far as proposing to force a Greexit from the Euro, and few seemed shocked then.
Presidents and ministers talked about including a tax on financial transactions to reduce super high-speed trading : the Tobin tax. People talked about it and then nothing happened.
Before that, France and Denmark had voted against the treaty to establish a Constitution for Europe and thus it was rejected. After all the treaty barely mentioned social justice and was about commerce and finance, which is fine if you want to play the game as usual. But the Union should have had much higher goals that put the Human at the center of its objective, and not money.
What happened then? The treaty of Lisbonne, which was basically a remixed Constitution, was adopted even if Europeans had said no to it. This was the biggest anti-democratic move to ever happen in the Union.
More recently, the TTIP has been in talks for years now for something that no one ever asked : freer trade with the United States. The fact that secrecy surrounds the project doesn’t seem to worry a majority of the European population. What could be wrong in an agreement that our politicians want to keep hidden at all costs, right? Leaks have shown that the agreement would reduce banking regulations while at the same time reducing safety norms for food, the environment and many other domains like electrical plug norms (you just need to see an American plug to understand that we don’t want that).
So the European Union has had a long history of caring only about banks and finance, and no one should be surprised that people aren’t happy about it.
And who’s been the main purveyor of neoliberal values? Who has shown the least interest in the humanist values of the Union? Who has gained so many dispensations from doing as every other member does? Who has consistently been closer to US positions rather than the European ones? Who has only taken the advantages and not accepted the disadvantages of being in the Union, cheating the game? The United Kingdom.
As a rational English, I would have voted to stay. As a pro-European non-English, I am happy to see them leave.
Now of course, that is not the only reason why the English majority has voted to leave. The main reason is indeed xenophobia or the need for “sovereignty”. But those are mainly symptoms, not causes. Had the UK and every other nation taken more care in presenting a project that is social and puts the interest of the people first, this wouldn’t have happened. The analysis should be that our countries cared too much about money and totally failed at promoting something better for us, not that racist people won!
Now I see people saying that “old people” did it. Not only is this a sad example of ageism, but it also implies that “old people” who where there when the Union was being built, can’t have a legitimate opinion on what it has become.
Another side of the issue is that a big part of “young people” still voted for the LEAVE. Is that truly what we want in the Union? A country where a third of young people and half of the population doesn’t want to be in? Would a 51% win for the REMAIN have been satisfactory? The thought of that is atrocious to me. If even a third of a country doesn’t want to be in, why force them? Keeping in countries with such high rates of disapproval over the Union is toxic. We can’t build something if almost 50% of people don’t want it, and I’m baffled that people regret losing the UK when that’s precisely how they feel, and it’s not because of old people!
We, as the European Union, have a much better chance now at building a social Europe than ever. Of course it’s sad to see our English friends leave, but they made their choice and what will it change for us ? Nothing. Even going on vacation there will be exactly the same.