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#Brexit anti-immigration argument continues war against poor

7 Jun , 2016  

Rupert Dreyfus is the author of Spark and The Rebel's Sketchbook; transgressive black comedies which keep the spirit of rebellion alive by taking swipes at the establishment as well as those nightmarish corporations which seem hell-bent on turning our world into one giant supermarket. You can find him at

“You have more in common with immigrants than with your leaders.” – Akala

As the date of the EU referendum nears, anti-immigration has become one of the few dominating arguments which is convincing floating voters to pitch a tent in the leave camp.

After weeks of a close but steady majority for remain, the current polls are showing an assertive lead for those who want out and it’s no coincidence that this has come largely off of the back of A-list celebrity Brexiters Boris Johnson and Michael Gove publically frothing over the idea of having an immigration system based on the Australian model – even though we already have one.

Meanwhile The Telegraph has recently reported that Nigel Farage has repeated his claims that women in the UK are at risk of sex attacks because of the “cultural differences” between British society and migrants; a brand of racism which is so archaic, its popularity was last seen in the British colonies a century ago.

What raises an eyebrow is that the remain camp has already pulled out its trump card which tends to sway all referendums and elections considerably: the economic argument. A significant majority of economists have clubbed together to point out the economic dangers of leaving the EU.

The A-list Brexiters have responded like all free market fundamentalists tend to respond to economic uncertainty: have faith in the God of Neoliberalism.

Contrast this with the Scottish National Party who in 2014 had stalled on questions of economic uncertainty during the Scottish independence referendum. Westminster seized on this, browbeat the electorate for a couple of weeks and the SNP never seemed to recover from it.

However, for the time being it appears that the vast majority of the leave campaign don’t care about abstract concepts such as “economic uncertainty” and would risk tumbling the stock exchange in order to keep out the immigrants.

It would be wildly unfair to accuse the entire leave camp of being Union Jack flag waving racists. While a small percentage of Brexiters no doubt think we still trade in slave labour and tea, many of them have real concerns which have unfortunately manifested as a misguided, impotent protest against the EU while our domestic leaders are set to get away relatively unscathed.

It’s pretty clear to the rest of us that if we do come out of the EU then the key problems of living in what has been called the most corrupt country in the world by mafia expert Roberto Saviano aren’t going to go away.

In fact, these deep-rooted problems of corruption and greed are likely to intensify as we watch an unrestrained Tory government dismantle the welfare state, the NHS, public services, workers’ rights, human rights and everything else that binds the fabric of our society together and provides us with at least some protection against abuses of power.

Prime Minster, David Cameron, laughs as Boris Johnson, London Mayor, delives his speech at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham this afternoon.

We only have to look at their manifesto to see that the Tories aren’t going to use any money saved from exiting the EU to compensate those who have already been brutalised by austerity; the sick and disabled, and those getting robbed on zero-hour contracts to name only a few. But what they will do is scrap the Human Rights Act.

So when the age-old clincher of economic uncertainty appears to have little to no impact on public opinion, we really have to ask ourselves why the anti-immigration argument – an argument which doesn’t hold up to scrutiny – has so much sway over the British public?

There are clearly many reasons but one observation I’d like to make is that the human targets for this hostility all share one thing in common: they are at the extremely poor end of the income spectrum.

Wealthy migrants such as Russian oligarchs, Chinese entrepreneurs and professional footballers from outside the EU have up until recently been free to come to Britain without prejudice. In the eyes of the propagandised such people aren’t migrants. However, if you’re poor and considered unskilled then you’re definitely a migrant.

Things are getting so ridiculous that there have recently been proposals for an immigration system which favours the wealthy. This means that if you’re rich enough, you can buy your way out of having to learn to speak English whereas if you’re comparatively poor, you have to jump through all manner of hoops to get here.

Furthermore; if you’re arriving in the UK because you’re fleeing illegal wars kick-started by the very countries which are turning against you or, like the rest of us, you simply want to improve your quality of life then you have nothing to offer us. This is a rich man’s world and you just happen to live in it. But not here: go live somewhere else.

If the leave camp has their way on the 23rd then this trend perhaps indicates who is going to be the next victim once poor people from overseas can no longer be blamed: our domestic poor.

This means it’ll be you; it’ll be me; it’ll be the poor fella on the zero-hour contract; it’ll be the supermarket till operator; it’ll be the office cleaner; it’ll be the homeless person begging for change; it’ll be the bedbound; the needy; those with mental health issues.

At this rate it’ll be anybody but those who are actually responsible for the drudgery we endure because this is the Age of Impotent Protest. This is the age where we do what we’re supposed to do and tear our society apart. This is right-wing warfare in action.

The only way we can surmount this ugly, divisive tactic is by recognising who the real enemy is and not letting them out of our sights because otherwise this is what you get.

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