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Tuesday April 25th 2017

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BREXIT shakes the world, but what is it and what does it mean?

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Editor Notes: Many people of color in the in the United States do not have access to the back story about what’s happening in the UK. I have asked one of the most important people in my social network to explain in simple clarity the implications of the exit to include her own viewpoint that is better than most United States mainstream media accounts of the situation in the UK. Thank you Ms. Steel. 

By Tracy Steel, Columnist - London Correspondent for Our Black News (International Edition-2016)

By Tracy Steel, Columnist – London Correspondent for Our Black News (International Edition-2016)

United Kingdom – The EU referendum is on everyone’s lips, but what was it all about? There were huge arguments for Leave and Remain, and pros and cons for both, along with way too much information that I can’t include here without writing a book. It started with an agreement that the public had no say in.

1973 saw our unelected entry into the Common Market/European Communities, led by Edward Heath, Conservative Party leader.  Then, 1975 there was a referendum to gauge support for remaining which would then be the European Economic Communities (EEC) and this was favoured by 67pc of the UK.

Part of the EU membership means complying to EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which has reformed over recent years. It emerged after WWII due to on-going food shortages, paying subsidies to farmers.  For example, Tate and Lyle, one of the UK’s oldest and largest food manufacturers, Tate and Lyle still buy sugar cane from overseas such as India, processing and distributing via 6 plants throughout the UK. Their operations reduced to a single plant and the loss of hundreds of jobs due to EU restrictions and tariffs designed to protect European sugar beet competitors, yet receives CAP subsidies (top receiver of them). This makes no economic sense to most.

The CAP has proved to be hard on many businesses while others have benefitted from the EU, such as larger companies getting cheap labour.

If you look at the British Steel industry – that was destroyed by the UK Government blocking an EU agreement to put stronger tariffs on steel imports. Had this gone through, the EU would have actually helped our Steel industry. But then, surely the UK Government should have proposed that anyway as they pledged to do everything they can to save British steel, not so apparently.

The NHS, the only institute of its kind in Europe;  Europeans can visit the UK and use the NHS but if I go to Spain and break a leg, yes I get emergency treatment but Spain bills that back to the NHS. There are EU terms that have failed to be negotiated.

Negotiating out of the single currency and keeping the GBP was a wise move.

Our exit from the EU was a close call, and shrouded with fear mongering, unfair mainstream media coverage and misinformation from both the Leave and Remain camps, followed by an overwhelming bad feeling from the public and still, more misinformation and fear mongering.

The Remain Campaign basically told people that the economy would crash, the pound will fall, our IMF rating will drop, and we will be taxed more (which has to happen anyway because of the so called deficit).

The Leave campaign mainstream media coverage was all exposure for the far-right and portrayed racism, and xenophobia. They also made a lot of people think that the money we don’t pay to the EU will go into the NHS but there was never going to be all of that money back as most of it will go into farming and food manufacturing subsidies, it just won’t go via the EU.

As a result, the Leave voters are being classed as racist bigoted xenophobes. Many of us are understandably upset by this. We all tried to make an informed decision among huge swathes of information. Myself, like many people I know, switched off to the MSM and campaigns, and made an informed decision, as did many of the Remain voters.

Leave voters were from all classes, and all cultures. And hardly any that I know of, did it for immigration reasons, it was mainly economic. And a distaste for the neoliberalist elite running our lives. Britain always traded well for hundreds of years and with every country of the world, an exit from the EU means a chance to build better individual trade agreements. It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden, we want to kick out EU citizens, on the contrary, they will remain and immigration will continue.

Unfortunate for Labour,  as their leader switched from Leave to Remain, when majority Labour supporters are in the North of England and they have suffered native neglect of economy for far  too long, plus they do see economic immigration as a threat – although we receive low numbers of these compared to other countries. They also see 350 million pounds a week going the EU as money that should stay in the UK. In reality, as I previously mentioned, we won’t see all of that money back as we will still have to pay subsidies but will handle it ourselves. Who knows what will be done with the remaining amount. Everything is speculation.

The current worrying situation is Britt’s being at loggerheads, social media has been a war zone!

Voters on both sides seem emotional, more so the Remain camp, as they are under the misconception that everyone who voted leave are akin to UKIP. Of course it would be highly upsetting to think that half of your country is full of xenophobic racists. What they fail to see is that Leavers were a very diverse bunch of all classes and background. The voters were not necessarily aligned to whichever politician was campaigning and that point seems to have been completely missed. As I write, I am watching Question Time – a TV programme where a politician is tarring all leavers with the anti-immigration brush. I take that as a personal insult, as do many people I know.

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