Tremendous Immigrant Flows into the UK Were a Factor in Vote
The British exit from the European Union (EU) this week may have been about a lot of things – including being autonomous and not submitting to directives handed down by nonelected technocrats and bureaucrats (I’m thinking Thomas Jefferson and that “tree of liberty” that “must be refreshed”) – but without a doubt the high level of immigration to the UK was definitely one factor in this historic vote against the status quo.
Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and very vocal long-time critic of how the UK has handled immigration issues, has opposed the “burden-sharing” of refugees that have flooded Europe in the last 18 months and said that the EU’s common asylum policy was not designed to deal with the “biblical exodus” to Europe from the Middle East and Africa. Farage called the vote “a victory for ordinary people, decent people. It’s a victory against the big merchant banks, against the big businesses and against big politics.”
According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, for the 12 months to mid-2015, the UK’s population increased by an estimated 513,000 people, with net migration accounting for about 66 percent of that growth. International migration inflow was at its highest in nine years.
Simon Ross from Population Matters, a UK-based organization working on sustainability and population issues said, “Near record net migration and an excess of births over deaths, to which migration also contributes, are combining to keep the UK near the top of the European population growth league table.
“London and the South East, already two of Europe’s most densely populated areas, are growing denser still. Such population growth will feed into existing concerns about housing affordability, transport congestion and access to schools and healthcare. High population growth also threatens the green belt, biodiversity and emissions targets. These figures are further evidence that we must act now to limit future growth.”
By population size, with 65.1 million people, the UK ranks in the top 25 countries in the world, and it’s the fourth most densely populated country in the EU.
Comments on social media and in response to news coverage were divided and strident.
In a New York Times “live” event with their international economics correspondent, Peter Goodman, one poster said that it made no sense for the “great elite, the wealthy” to leave the EU, but for “the people on the ground, where it's down and dirty, the ones being told we are employing Polish only, where schools are teaching Islam, where emergency rooms have eight-hour waits, when you can’t rent a house but Bulgarians can, when the population swells by a large town every year, when being English puts you in the minority … that’s why we voted out; it’s called a Revolution.”
“We joined a common market which turned into a fascist super state with unelected leaders. All we really wanted was to be governed by the people WE voted for, not some fascist totalitarian dictatorship.”
Also from FB:
“I am from and live in the UK. The reason the UK is leaving is because we have no control of our own borders. Our NHS is so stretched it’s at breaking point. We are a small island; we can't handle so many people coming in. Remember, the UK survived before the EU, and it will survive after it…. It’s simple; the British people are fed up of being pushed around.”
And a comment from an article about Brexit:
“I’ve thought about it for many years, including those when I worked for the immigration service and saw violent and troublesome immigrants granted TA (temporary admission) to our country, so that the IS could get them ‘off their books.’ I’ve seen immigrants who don’t speak English, and have no means, released after midnight, so there are fewer witnesses to them disappearing into the black economy…. This referendum isn’t about immigration alone, but I’m voting out with a vengeance if we stand one chance in a million of controlling illegal immigration and having a say who enters our small island.”
The UK is ranked as the fifth largest economy in the world. After all the hubbub diminishes, it’s hard not to believe the UK will be just fine, and probably better as they inject some common sense into their immigration policies.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., we’ll see what lessons we learn from this decision.