I’m taking a break from blogging for my summer holidays – capturing the zeitgeist it seems, what with all the coverage of ‘digital detox’ in the newspapers at the moment based on this Ofcom research (although Aleks Krotoski, for one, points out that relapse is inevitable and that technology is so useful that this shouldn’t be anything to worry about).Yet I couldn’t resist a short post, weeks on from Brexit, thinking about what’s happening now in British politics.
Watching Zoe Williams and Charlotte Church discuss Brexit and British politics last weekend at the well-heeled Wilderness festival, with varying degrees of success, reminded me of this excellent article that a family member forwarded me by John Lanchester. Written for London Review of Books, it’s a really interesting read, which ties together some of the things I’ve mentioned in my previous articles: about the net contribution of migrants to the UK, the untruths peddled by the ‘Leave’ campaign, and the economic damage we have committed to ourselves in the process. Lanchester points out how ‘Leave’ as a protest vote by the working class, manipulated by campaigns, media, and post-fact politics, cannot help but backfire disproportionately on their own interests:
“None of this is what working-class voters had in mind when they opted for Leave. If it’s combined with the policy every business interest in the UK wants – the Norwegian option, in which we contribute to the EU and accept free movement of labour, i.e. immigration, as part of the price – it will be a profound betrayal of much of the Leave vote. If we do anything else, we will be inflicting severe economic damage on ourselves, and following a policy which most of the electorate (48 per cent Remain, plus economically liberal Leavers) think is wrong. So the likeliest outcome, I’d have thought, is a betrayal of the white working class. They should be used to it by now.”
Many of you will have read Lanchester’s Capital, which personally left me a bit cold (factually interesting, but lacking the human narratives that keep these topics relevant to the reader), but this article is a great précis of the economic impact of Brexit. As Lanchester points out, as a way of knocking back London’s smug prosperity, Brexit will most likely fail because the City and its bankers are better placed than the rest of the U.K to weather fiscal uncertainty. Thus the very people who many ‘Leave’ voters wanted to knock down a peg or two will come out of Brexit smoothly or almost smoothly, whereas more deprived economic areas will suffer disproportionately.
And your summer holiday will cost more than ever, with the pound measuring up miserably against the euro… keep an eye on the cervezas.