By Anasudhin Azeez
London– British voters have spoken and they have spoken clearly and loudly to exit from the European Union. The next three months will be crucial for the country when the new team at 10 Downing Street begins their talks to find out new deals to protect the country’s interests.
But the question is how united the Kingdom will be to begin the talks.
The Balkanisation has already started as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has mentioned a Second Independent Referendum and Northern Ireland First Deputy Minister Martin McGuinness seeks a vote on an Irish border for a United Ireland. English and Welsh voters chose immigration over the economy, and, perhaps inadvertently, switched allegiance from Prime Minister David Cameron to a group of largely untested right-wingers who have no plan for managing the political — and potentially, economic — chaos that will now ensue.
The prime minister has quit and the opposition leader is facing a trust vote. Cameron is a victim of his own success. His targets to meet the net migration failed because the economy was doing well to prevent more to leave Britain. It also attracted thousands to its shores to test their luck and find better opportunity.
The immigration issue was about numbers coming from Eastern Europe — about people who don’t have English as their first language. But no more. Now anyone with a black or brown face knows, their nationality will be regularly questioned, even when they are born in the UK and speak Cockney or Mancunian. After an appalling referendum campaign, dominated by daily front-page stories regarding migrant invasion, there is no surprise if people ask a differently-skinned person about their trip to “home country”.
The impact of Brexit on three million British Asians, especially the 1.6 million Indians, will be enormous. They are one of the most successful communities in Britain. The ABCD (Accountant, Barrister, Chemist and Doctor) culture of British parents produced so many of them. There are over 60,000 Indian doctors working in the National Health Services besides nearly 20,000 nurses, majority from the South Indian state of Kerala.
The Brexit victory has polarised the country and it will make the situation worse at public and work places. The campaign crossed the decency at various stages and it fell when the UKIP leader unveiled the controversial poster with Syrian refugees.
For the average voter, immigration was the main issue. Except London, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the issue played a crucial factor in their decisions. That makes every one of us vulnerable. The issue may be on Eastern Europeans, but next will be us. The Black and Ethnic Minority Community have a reason to worry. When the campaigns were hijacked by right-wing politicians and their followers, the future is tense for British Asians.
The hardworking plumbers and unskilled workers were taunted in the streets with a question about their return journey. Don’t feel lucky. It may be your turn next. The country has polarised. The immigrant population are the reason for all the trouble. They are ignoring the fact that thousands of doctors from India are shoring up the ailing health services; IT experts from India are running the country smoothly and skilled and unskilled workers from Eastern Europe are running the factories to meet their deadlines and targets. If things get worsen, they will blame you. Give a dog a bad name and hang it.
The Brexit camp’s win in the referendum is the victory of feelings over facts. The Brexit camp won on three factors — Immigration, the 350 million pound weekly fee to the EU club and the so-called Brussels Bureaucracy. All are built on wrong facts and figures. Brexit leaders like Nigel Farage have the audacity to call it an Independence Day. He doesn’t know the history of this great country. The country has survived invasions and major wars. Some deals on paper won’t turn the country into a colony.
Cameron is a victim of his own success and passion to fulfil promises. Some are still wondering why he called the referendum in the first place. His plan to end his party’s Europe issue once and for all backfired on a scale of historic proportions. He was let down by the people who were very close to him. They put their personal interest before the country’s long term progress.
This is the time to take stock of the situation. Nobody can ignore the Brexit camp’s agenda. One agrees with the complaint that EU is a remote, mammoth institution without any sense of compassion to set rules, laws and regulations. But they are doing some good deeds also. Worker’s rights and struggling farmers were the beneficiary of EU reforms. Research facilities, art centres, community establishments woouldn’t have cropped across Britain, if EU was not there to fund them.
They were wrong. But leaving them is not a solution. They were wrong on uncontrolled immigration. There must be some system to monitor the criminals and the people who want to exploit the benefit system. But they were not listening. If you are not listening, you have to pay the price. That is what we are seeing in Britain now.
(Anasudhin Azeez is Editor of London-based Asian Lite. The views expressed are personal.)