True story

Had a cab ride back from the airport last week. On the way, my heart sunk as the driver began talking on the subject of Brexit.

He started slowly with the basics. He didn’t like the EU as he didn’t like freedom of movement. Nothing against the people coming here, but there was no work for English lads (his words).

He then denounced politicians in general for the time it was taking. Brexit means Brexit. We just need to plough on and get out. Should have just left without any negotiation at all, the week after the referendum. Nothing bad would happen. Stuff about backlogs at ports and food and medicine shortages was Project Fear. Couple of days, all sorted. The EU need us more than we need them.

Then we moved on. He was an ex painter and decorator who couldn’t get work. Too many Poles and Romanians. He liked the Poles - good honest blokes. He hates Romanians. Sneaky thieves all of em.

At this point I had to speak up. Surely a whole nation can’t be dismissed so easily. Did he think that everyone in the logistics industry and every trade expert was part of some conspiracy to pretend that crashing out might bring about profound problems. Had he thought about the evidence that we needed immigrant labour to keep a number of sectors going, or that on balance immigrants created more jobs than they took, and paid more in tax than they take. That the problems of English lads who can’t find work might be more rooted in technological change hollowing out decent jobs, and a cash starved education system failing to prepare people. Or that a lot of companies who depend on frictionless trade seem very likely to leave taking a load of jobs with them.

At this point he twigged that what he thought was a safe audience for his rant was anything but, and went on the offensive. He just wanted things to go back to how it was. Not so many foreigners hanging around town, nicking our jobs and taking out houses.

I appreciate that this is just one person. And in a democracy, everyone gets a say and what he thinks is just as important as anyone else. But he’s ignorant and bigoted. Most of the conversations I’ve had with Brexit voters seem to involved similar themes. Having immigrants in the country is bad (it isn’t). Absolutely nothing bad will happen if we leave, deal or no (it will). I just want it go back to like it was (totally impossible, as technological progress is changing everything).

And otherwise, basically not a single argument about the E.U. and why the state were in is bad and a direct consequence of being a member.

I’ve now given up trying to persuade people. Leavers are too invested. The ones I’ve spoken too simply will not be persuaded and have an aversion to reason and evidence. We need to just push on and suffer the consequences. Then as country falls further behind and as living standards for ordinary folk fall, we can think about rejoining with a genuine consensus that this is good in X years.

I try not to post on Brexit anymore. Other than this of course.

Posted By: Under soil heating on March 15th 2019 at 09:25:04

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