'Tis the Summer of Britain's Discontent
Remember how you were drawn to a fast-food restaurant by the advertisement of a big, succulent hamburger, only to be disappointed by what was actually in the wrapper once you bought one?
The decision for Britain to leave the European Union was made by 52% of those who voted in the June 23 referendum, in a 72% turnout of the electorate. They did so for a perceived dividend in not having to contribute to the European general funds (which can then be used to shore up the much-beleagured National Health Service), and the prerogative of determining whom they will allow to come to stay in their country.
Even now, they are beginning to realize the cheque isn’t in the mail. Much of the perceived post-Brexit dividend was already spent back in Britain, fixing rural highways and subsidizing farmers. These and other crucial expenditures must eventually come solely from the British taxpayers themselves.
And, for those who believe they can now selectively block foreigners from entering the country - or deport those already there - the way they do with criminals, they are due for a civic lesson. As it has been shown time and time again, the idea that immigrants come to “steal” jobs and entitlements is a fallacy. Immigrants, in general, arrive to bring about a net plus to the local economy. As economy grows, more jobs are created, generating more wealth to be shared as entitlements.
The next time an English restaurant patron tells his Polish waitress that she is not welcome, he should be reminded that the waitress is probably working harder than he is for a lower wage, so that the restaurant stays in business, pays its wages, fees and taxes, and does its part in maintaining a certain standard of life in the community, and the country as a whole. If a town or village wants to stop Polish workers from coming to work at its shops and cafes, it may as well close them, and then we’ll see just how much good that will do.
Should there be any post-EU dividend at all, or even the prerogative to put a stop to immigration, they were regarded by voters as things that already belonged to them - and surely they didn't have to pay a price for something that should already be theirs, or should they?. Such price, and a dear one at that, are the perks of EU membership that all Britons have taken for granted, namely the benefits of easily accessing the European market and everything it entails - visa-free travel, cheap holiday packages, universities, universal healthcare, and so forth.
So what, one might ask. Another inconvenience amongst many (as a matter of security), and a little more tariff to pay at the airport, are not going to stop British holidaymakers from crowding the Mediterranean beaches of France, Spain and Greece, whose fragile economies need them more than ever. Britons are still going to buy Nissans, many of which are manufactured at the plant at Sunderland, a township that was first to be counted amongst those who voted decidedly to leave the EU. The stock markets are already recovering from Brexit’s first-day jitters, and so is the pound sterling. London will now carry on more like New York and Hong Kong; the scale and reach of its financial institutions will not significantly diminish.
-- CW, 30 June 2016, updated 2 July 2016