Riaz Kerim Political Analyst and Commentator England
Barry Grossman Political Analyst and Activist Indonesia
Questions asked at the conference: 1- Why did people of Britain vote for exiting from EU? 2- what are the criticisms toward brexit? 3- why has brexit become a problematic and complex issue? 4- do you think it ll be possible for England to get back to EU? 5- how much can brexit affect Teresa May's power? 6- how would the situation of migrants be in England after brexit? 7- what would be the consequences of brexit for the economy of Europe and other parts of the world?
View full conference video on YouTube
Following is a summary of the questions and answers which are raised in this webinar.
Riaz Kerim Political Analyst and Commentator England 1- Why did people of Britain vote for exiting from EU? People voted to leave Europe because they were lied to that the money that we’re currently giving to Europe will be saved and we would be able to open a brand new hospital every three months. This is the amount of billions of dollars that were going save. So people got into their narratives that we’re sitting in EU for absolutely nothing; we could govern ourselves and could be independent and trade with any country that we want around the world and save billions of dollars and have more hospitals and social services. The problem is that this was not just any referendum; this was David Cameron, previous prime minister. He had said that brexit is just a no-go and we are going remain in the EU and when Teresa May became the prime minister, she said breaks it means brexit. It’s been over two years now and they’re still trying to leave and they’re not getting a consensus among themselves.
2- Why has brexit become a problematic and complex issue? There's a multitude of problems. One of the biggest problems that the MPS don't seem to agree in is called the backstop. Let me unpack that for you. When the UK leaves the EU, there's a 310 mile border between Ireland and Northern Ireland which will become the land border between the UK and the EU. Neither side wants to see a return of checkpoints or any towers or custom posts or surveillance cameras at the border in case it reads the troubles and disrupts the free cross-border flow of trade in people so the UK agreed to put in place what is called the backstop which is a kind of safety net to ensure that there is no hard border whatever the outcome may be of the future trade talks between the UK and the EU. The backstop agreed between these two parties would keep Northern Ireland aligned to some EU rules on things like food products and good standards that would prevent the need for checks on goods at the Irish border but would require some products being brought to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK to be subject to new checks and controls so the backstop would involve a temporary single custom territory effectively keeping the whole of the UK and EU on a single custom. But in effect there are groups of people who are supporting different things. That's the biggest problem that we have. We have the European research group led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and then this Labor Party which wants a completely watered-down brexit so that they continue doing business with Europe along with the single Customs Union. The problem is that whatever the UK government does has to be approved by the Parliament in order to be ratified by the European Union. If there is no consensus here, the EU is going throw it out.
3- Do you think it'll be possible for England to get back to EU? Absolutely. It's an open invitation. If you revoke article 50, you can come back into the EU with the same terms that you have been here with before and that has been saved by the EU, it has been ratify by the court. Even today, they have a petition out that wants to revoke article 50 and they have over 6 million signatures in a span of 5 days I believe. 6 million people signed to revoke article 50 so the parliament has no choice but to hear it out and listen to the people.
4- What would be the consequences of brexit for the economy of Europe and other parts of the world? Let’s start with the National Health Service. The National Health Service has a shortfall of a hundred thousand nurses which some of them had come from the EU and after this whole big brexit fiasco a lot of them left the Europeans. A lot of them left and went back to Poland and Romania and whatever country they came from because they were not sure whether they're going be welcomed or not and so it has left a huge hole in the National Health Service. Right now the HSBC, the Nissan, they have basically threatened to move their headquarters out of London and either go to Belgium or to the Netherlands. The loss of jobs, companies moving away, development coming to a standstill all is massive so in that in the short term the UK will have to take an absolutely huge hit in order to come back to where he was or perhaps even go further. The EU doesn't want the UK to leave as much as the UK doesn't want to leave the EU. It is just the people who were misguided and they were told lies that are making this so difficult.
5- Barry Grossman asks Kerim: To what extent do you feel the original public support for the lead campaign was based on this sense that some people had that they were to return to the good old days of a jolly England with no immigrants; and related to that have you noticed any increase in intolerance towards immigrants since that view started to be encouraged by those people who are actively supporting the brexit campaign? The Islamophobia is basically at its highest level. With what is going on, the white supremacist groups that are existing in here have gotten more power they're committing more crimes towards immigrants. Nothing is being done about that part and so we have progressively seen it getting worse rather than better. All the immigrants are walking on eggshells because the crime rate is absolutely at its massive top.
Barry Grossman Political Analyst and Activist Indonesia 1- Why did people of Britain vote for exiting from EU? 2- Why has brexit become a problematic and complex issue? The criticisms are all over the shop. I don’t think anyone ever really expected that there would be a vote in this referendum for the UK to leave the EU. The willingness to hold this referendum came out of an internal party conflict; the Tory party with Cameron being concerned about people defecting to UK and making a promise going into the 2015 election that if the Tories won that this referendum would be held but leaving of course that there was no chance that the people of the United Kingdom would vote to leave the EU. On one hand, you had people being concerned that EU politics was being increasingly dominated by the neighborhood the neoliberal ethos that the European Parliament had been infiltrated by the right and that they felt in order to preserve their right the United Kingdom to pursue liberal policies they needed to get out. On the other hand, what we have is a conservative party that is probably farther to the right than the EU would ever be and we have this overwhelming public support beaten up into lunacy by this reaction based almost entirely on immigration policy.
The United Kingdom is willing to compromise on any principle in order to pursue economic interest. This is the dominant characteristic of the Tory party. Theresa May has been very open about her view that there should be no connection between arms sales and trade and a country's human rights performance but when it comes to brexit, it's like any concerns about economy were thrown out the window in order to press ahead with this agenda and it is a quest for power. Politicians in the United Kingdom want to have complete power and not be accountable to anybody. This whole plays very much to the interests of the United States. Everyone ought to know that a weak and divided Europe and an isolated United Kingdom is very much in the United States interests. If the exit proceeds, it is a mortally wounded Europe as somewhat isolated the United Kingdom that depends very much on the United State. This was a referendum that was held in complete ignorance without the slightest expectation by the Tory party that there would be a majority vote to leave.
3- Do you think it'll be possible for England to get back to EU? 4- How much can brexit affect Teresa May's power? It's quite clear that Teresa May is done. I think she has established her legacy and her legacy is one of a complete loser both as the Prime Minister and as a human being. The fact that all of those Tory party members in Parliament who have been completely opposed to the various deal that she's cobbled together nevertheless managed to come to her support. The so-called backstop solution isn't it breaks it at all and involves basically remaining part of the EU for many years in terms of trade on. The fact of the matter is if the people of England feel that they have a right to self-determination based on some notion that their cultural values ought to prevail and that they ought to be entitled to refuse immigrants the right to come to the United Kingdom that same logic dictates that the people of Northern Ireland should be able to have self-determination and the people of Scotland should be able to term their future as well and there's a lot of people in Northern Ireland of course and now also in Scotland who feel that way. So if there's going to be a backstop well let it be somewhere in the ocean that separates what is England from Ireland and let England then deal with the situation that arises in its relations with Scotland; but quite frankly I just don't think this is going to happen. Dr. Kerim said the EU has made it very clear that anytime the United Kingdom chooses to remain it can remain and it doesn't require all of the other EU member countries to agree; it simply requires a unilateral decision on the part of the UK to remain. My sense was that brexit was never about economy on the political side it was about politicians wanting to have absolute power without accountability to the European Parliament but more importantly on the public side it was about this sense that certainly a lot of people still have in the United Kingdom that they don't want immigrants there. They don't want to wake up hearing Azan; they don't want to see Muslims there.
5- How would the situation of migrants be in England after brexit? First of all, there are already problems for immigrants from Europe and a whole raft of new rules were adopted by the Tory party restricting the ability of immigrants from the European Union to stay there and indeed other immigrants to stay there they had to achieve a certain level income within the first couple of years. They set the bar quite high in order for people to qualify to stay after they legally arrived. Secondly, they've been moves underway for a long time under this Tory government to get rid of people who lived in the United Kingdom for many decades. So some answer your question yes there will be some initial consequences but ultimately the United Kingdom is a country of immigrants. There’s no way to get rid of people who migrated lawfully to the United Kingdom and became citizens. They’re not going to go away and I think there certainly are many people in the United Kingdom that have no problem with that but unfortunately there's also a very vocal and growing minority that do have a big problem with that. It’s a growing problem all over Europe and it's a growing problem in the United States and in Australia and indeed the entire Atlantic world including Canada and everywhere else.