The EU has certainly brought benefits to the UK. However, these benefits have come at a cost and this cost has been distributed unevenly across the UK. By cost, I don’t mean the annual contribution that we make but more the hidden costs associated with membership. In joining we have had to accept the demise of industries once at the core of UK life (fishing is an example) as well as turn our backs on countries outside the UK with which we have had historical trading ties (typically through the Commonwealth).
In addition, the introduction of the free labour movement has seen not only the useful movement of skilled labour into areas where it is needed but also the flooding of the semi-skilled and unskilled markets with cheap labour. Bringing costs down is not a bad thing, but there are inevitably social consequences when it is achieved by reducing labour costs rather than improved processes.
In communities dependent on supplying labour into these latter markets, jobs have either become scarcer (supply of labour outstripping demand) or it has resulted in a depression in the wages paid to people as employers have a bigger potential workforce from which to draw (and the appearance of zero-hour contracts). In addition, these communities have found themselves inundated with migrant labour which has not only put pressure on existing infrastructure (hospitals, schools, etc) but has also alienated some people who feel like strangers in their own communities.
Migration in these areas has been more akin to an invasion rather than a steady integration. So, in short, the hidden costs of the EU have been distributed unevenly throughout the country. Add to this the pressure of austerity measures introduced following a recession caused entirely by the greed of unscrupulous financiers and you have the potential for large swathes of the population feeling ignored and disenfranchised.
Now throw into this mix the idea that the population of the UK will be given a vote on whether to stay in or leave the EU. What do you think is likely to happen? Well, just what did happen. Those areas of the country feeling the greatest pain have voted to leave. Those areas of the country suitably blanketed from the hidden costs have voted to stay.
To steal from Stevie Smith,
If this means leaving the EU, then the short economic term pain will be worth it if the long term social benefit is to bring the disparity parts of the UK closer together again.
BTW, did you notice that I made no mention of the MPs or anyone involved in the political process?
Why? Because vested interest and party politics are driving their agendas. What I am citing here is what the people of this country need – not the politicians.
Sources – Nemo’s comment