In Great Britain there is not much an issue with race but with class and socio-economic background. This is a multicultural and multilingual society, and it works. Even if admittedly, some neighbourhoods in London and in other parts of the country feel more ghetto-cultural than multicultural and are therefore, segregated. There is a pyramid and those at the top do hold a lot of power. It was those belonging to the “British establishment” the ones that took the country into the Brexit referendum. They didn’t do it because they thought it would benefit Great Britain and the less favoured members of society. They did it because of their own political agenda and aspirations. This easily explains the bland discourse targeted at the British working class about foreigners taking all the jobs and benefits and collapsing the NHS. On the other hand, some of the wealthy voters of Brexit with their tax heavens securely protecting their vast assets and spending more time abroad than at home, kept quiet while probably sipping a Mojito in Saint Barts.
Who is the British establishment? Majority of them are public educated school boys (and literally so as top schools such as Eton or Harrow are still boys only schools) and they probably have degrees from Oxford or Cambridge. Judging by the politicians leading the Brexit campaign, an overwhelming majority of whom belongs to the establishment, these institutions are definitely not producing as Allen Ginsberg would say, “the best minds of their generation”. They are producing arrogant, self entitled, narrow-minded, idiotic politicians who can barely strike a deal with their European equals who are probably questioning their competence. It will take a few generations for the state school girls and boys to turn the country around and make the British establishment a thing of the past just like the Empire.
The Brexit campaign was divisive, xenophobic and misleading. They told lies as if they were facts, such as the infamous bus slogan “we send the EU £350 million a week, lets fund our NHS instead -vote Leave“.The figure proved to be wrong as it did not take into account the money the UK receives from the EU, neither the payments made to the public sector.
Why an apparently forward thinking nation like Britain thought they would be better off kicking their neighbours out?
First, there is the arrogance of the modern English speaking world or what the Europeans and particularly the French call (even if wrongly so from a historical perspective) “The Anglo-Saxon world”. Even though Britain is a highly regarded and admired country in Europe because of its democratic institutions, diversity, diplomacy and healthy economy, there is an air of arrogance, superiority and I would add ignorance in how they view other non-English speaking countries or pretty much everything that is considered “foreigner”. English speakers often regard people who aren’t perfectly fluent in English (or even people with an accent) as somehow inferior or stupid, regardless of how intelligent they are (or how many other languages they speak, or how well).
Despite the exploitation nature of the British Empire, a sector of society do believe that Brexit will “Make Britain Great Again”. The British empire is still considered by many in power, a force for good. History has shown it was a force for change, but not for good. The most passionate Brexiteers see the Commonwealth as an alternative to the E.U, particularly as a trading bloc. Statistics however show that trade with the Commonwealth is small compared with trade with the E.U. Even though Europe is in our doorstep, Great Britain still prefers to have an influence in the Commonwealth because of historical and cultural links that are not always welcome by young generations in those countries. These countries are surely doing enough business with the USA to all of a sudden make trade with the UK a priority just because they need them now. Considering the recent backlash the government faced because the treatment of people from the so-called “Windrush generation”, something more substantial than an apology is needed to repair the damage. In fact a major reboot that looks into the future and stops longing for the glorious “good old empire days”is needed.
With the current non inspirational British establishment politicians leading the country, isn’t it time we stop seeing the Public School system and the so called top Universities for what they are? Just educational institutions producing some of the worst minds of their generation in political science at least ? More than two years have passed since people voted to leave the E.U and we are still waiting for those who said leaving was best, to actually prove it. As it stands, the Brexit deal is so weak, the House of Commons will probably reject it and the government will go back to square one.