The BREXIT is only one symptom of a political and social change that is gaining ground for over a decade now and is – unfortunately – gaining momentum in the last two years.
In the countries of the Northern hemisphere – Europe and North America – concerns are spreading among the population. Due to an ever increasing globalisation, people do feel already now or are concerned that they will in the future experience the effects of the globalisation.
Let us be clear: Not only lesser educated persons or socially lower standing classes or an older electorate are concerned that their income, that their social position, that their job or those of their children are in jeopardy. The higher educated, those who may be more inclined to vote Green, are also very much concerned about the effects of globalisation, as the demonstrations against CETA throughout Europe have proven.
The rise of the populists
We now clearly see that the rise of the populists in Eastern Europe, the perspective of Front National in France and AfD in Germany gaining power and the BREXIT are fuelled by the same identitarian reflexes.
Even a possible election of a US-President Trump is rooted in the same concerns. Don’t forget: in pre-electoral polls populist voters do not denounce themselves!
Of course, the ascension of the populists was – and is – only possible, because they successfully apply the old recipe : “Turn people’s diffuse concerns into strong fears”; then “Give simple answers to complex issues”.
The Pro-Brexiteers gave such a simple – and wrong – response to the very realistic fears of some fringes of the British society, those fears that the populists had nurtured during decades of Euroscepticism. And the established parties had in the worst surfed on the Euroscepticism wave or at best failed to install an alternative narration.
Which kind of BREXIT ?
The English, the Northern Irish, the Welsh and Scottish people must not be punished for their vote. If only be for democracy’s sake.
But the United Kingdom’s government should not be rewarded either. If only be for the sake of justice and equal treatment of those who are not part of the EU. And of those who are part of the EU.
In reducing my understanding of the European Union to the most simple expression, I would say that the EU stands for 4 everyday liberties: the freedom of circulation of capital, of goods, of services and of manpower. I especially say manpower and not persons, because the EU cannot hide its strong economic roots and the free circulation and establishment in any Member State by an individual remains subject to a working permit. But the free circulation of people is such a powerful and emblematic right – a right that can be experienced every day by any citizen – that we must defend it at all cost.
So: No cherry-picking for the Brits! If the UK is able to negotiate better market related conditions, those should the also be extended to Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
But above all: In BREXIT negotiations we should not trade easy economic advantages against the few social, democratic and everyday rights EU-citizens have. Because the European Union is doomed, if the union loses the support of the many Pro-Europeans who still are the silent majority.