Instead of treating it like a necessary evil, Remainers should reject lazy anti-immigrant sentiment—and show why freedom of movement is a good thingby Julia Blunck / June 20, 2018 / Leave a comment
Two years after the Brexit vote, the conversations around when, and how, we will leave have become more urgent and complex—but not less bitter.
On the Remain side, pundits talk about how a growing feeling of anti-immigrant sentiment underpinned the result, about the Leave camp’s mastermind manipulation, the dark arts of bus stunts and Russian interference.
While the influence of some of these might be overstated, the analysis is not incorrect. Undeniably, the feeling that something had to be done about immigration was a large part of why Brexit happened.
The problem, however, is that pro-Europeans seem to have decided that the public was right, and they were wrong; freedom of movement was a mistake.
This conclusion haunted every move pro-Europeans made during the campaign—and every move they have made since. Any conversation about immigration seems to start from this point.
The “legitimate concerns” line became not something to be discussed, but an incantation to be chanted immediately, preceding any discussion, as if to ward off evil. After years of accusations that they simply couldn’t connect with the concerns of “ordinary people,” liberal politicians have chosen not to engage, but to back those concerns uncritically.
The devil you know?
Few politicians felt that they should challenge these concerns, or show that freedom of movement has benefited the average person in Britain. By refusing to address this thinking, and instead making the case for the EU as a good thing only in that it is the devil you know, pro-Europeans lost the referendum.
They have now changed the wording of their magical thinking, but not the irrationality behind it; the important thing has become ensuring the all-powerful Second Referendum takes place.
The People’s Vote idea has a floating support among the public; depending on the wording, it can get just over half of people to back it—so it makes sense that many see it as a solution to Brexit’s “Will of the People” rhetoric.
But ensuring a People’s Vote takes place would be a hollow victory; once it was made real, it would run into the same problems that plagued the Remain campaign.
It’s not just about the leader
Many believe that the main block to the People’s Vote is called Jeremy…