Was immigration really responsible for Brexit?

Was immigration really responsible for Brexit?

Well, actually…yes.

From the data, it would seem that Brexit was not driven by any single factor, but rather reflected “a complex and cross-cutting mix of calculations, emotions and cues”. That said, immigration was key.

To really make sense of the Brexit vote we need to adopt a long-term view. Over the past decade, large majorities of our survey respondents consistently told us they wanted to see immigration into Britain reduced. The perception that historically unprecedented levels of net migration posed serious economic, security and cultural threats was widespread.

If people felt negatively about immigration, how it had been managed, and thought Britain had lost control of its economy to the EU then — long before June 2016 — they were already hostile toward the EU and prepared to terminate UK membership.

Many of those who would later vote for Brexit had concluded that the governing parties — Labour and Conservative alike— had failed to manage immigration competently. Therefore, many of the forces that led to Brexit were operating long before the referendum was held.  

Figure 1 shows that in recent years, the number of EU nationals arriving in Britain escalated sharply and concerns about immigration rose to the top of the political agenda. Then, in 2015, Angela Merkel’s decision to admit large numbers of refugees into the EU fuelled a sense among voters that established politicians, regardless of party, were failing to manage and, indeed, were indifferent to, an issue about which they cared very deeply.

As Britain headed towards the referendum, many people calculated that Brexit would be economically risky, both for the country and themselves. But they also concluded that, by leaving the EU, Britain would be better able to control its borders, counter terrorism and prevent the loss of sovereignty to the EU. These voters were concerned about their national community, not just economic self-interest. They eventually opted for Brexit in huge numbers.

Pretty simple to understand, and yet our own politicians, with the exception of Winston Peters, fail to understand this.

[T]he story of why Britain voted to leave the EU is straightforward. Propagated by an unlikely pair of effective messengers, Leave’s “Take Back Control” message harnessed the motive power of immigration, an emotionally charged issue that had been baked into British psychology long before the vote was even called.

These immigration fears, hitherto confined to the politically incorrect margins, not abstract concerns about a “democratic deficit” that required rescuing UK sovereignty from Brussels bureaucrats, do much to explain why Britain voted for Brexit.

We want to preserve out liberal western values and immigration from cultures and countries who refuse to integrate and are from those cultures, religions and countries that are hostile to those ideals means immigration doesn’t work. We just need to be honest and say quite clearly that those cultures and religions are incompatible with our way of life. That we don’t want to import the problems that have led to those people wanting to leave and they should look elsewhere for a home, because it isn’t here.

 – CapX


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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