A UK engineer explains: elites oppose Brexit because they import cheap workers

Summary: Why did UK elites have a hysterical reaction to the vote for Brexit? There is not one answer.  Andrew Fentem (engineer, inventor) explains one logical answer: it threatens their supply of cheap workers. Also, I recommend putting The Register on your reading list if you are interested in the IT industry (changing times requires new sources of info).

Fear and Brexit in Tech City:
Digital ‘elite’ are having a nervous breakdown

By Andrew Fentem at The Register (“Biting the hand that feeds IT”).
See the money paragraph in red.

…While some sections of the British press celebrate the Brexit vote in the UK, in the technology press there has been much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

Forbes interviewed a clearly traumatised Brent Hoberman – of Lastminute.com fame – who seems to be in need of a reassuring cuddle: “People feeling rejection. I think this is what the Leave campaign underestimated: the psychology of rejecting openness.” Sensitive Brent’s words will no doubt remind “Peep Show” fans of this classic scene {a UK show about 2 omega men.}…

Preening international elitists like Hoberman are exactly what Brexit voters so dislike. While the self-styled “digital elite” talk in therapy-speak about European peace, love, and understanding, they are masking their true motivation – which is the freedom to exploit low-cost mobile tech labour. Cheap labour was the top reason cited by Tech City startups for voting Remain.

Whatever happens after Brexit, tech poseurs will remain in the UK because the global elite just love London. It’s a wealthy, well-connected, cool, creative city with a ready supply of precarious labour and an impressive money-laundering infrastructure.

Last week, I met up with a friend who is the head of software for a large, well-known British technology company. Like a lot of the Remainers in the tech press, he was complaining that he had to do most of his recruitment abroad – such as from Eastern Europe.

So I asked him what levels of salaries he was offering. The answer, it turned out, was £25k a year for junior roles. I was quite shocked. In the very early 1990s I was briefly employed as a junior coder and was paid about the going rate back then: £19k. Since those days, general compound inflation has been approximately 100 per cent, and rents have increased approximately 200 per cent.

When I asked why they were offering so little, my friend replied that with the EU’s mandatory freedom of movement, the owners of the company “know that they can get away with it”.

In the early stages of my career I was an engineering apprentice and benefited from a considerable amount of on-the-job training. Apparently British tech employers no longer feel the need to provide that, either.

————- End excerpt ————-

A member of Britain’s elite explains Brexit, why the opposition to mass immigration…

“Those poor and uneducated people are xenophobic.”

It’s a bad sign when a nation’s elites consider the peons’ beliefs to be psychotic. It suggest a ruling class that has lost touch with its subjects. The process of re-connection ion can be painful.

Some things never change.

Announcement of cheap workers: newly arrived immigrants
Virginia Gazette, 28 March 1771.

Anderw Fenton

About the author

Andrew Fentem pioneered multitouch techniques several years before Apple’s iPhone (see the story here). See his other articles at The Register. See his website, showcasing his latest (and mind-blowing) invention (more about it here).

For More Information

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9 thoughts on “A UK engineer explains: elites oppose Brexit because they import cheap workers”

  1. That explains the motivations of the commercial elites (business owners) and political elites in their pockets, but does that explain the motivations of the press and academia? Also, when I think of “elites”, I tend to include those of us in the upper middle who have the luxury to divorce our opinions from our everyday economic survival.

    Expanding outward to this larger group, I’ve found that the reaction is explained by the belief that developed societies inevitably advance toward progressive policies of which the free flow of people across national borders is an example. And anything that prevents this inevitable march is, by definition, backward, ignorant, racist.

    TBH, the reactions of my colleagues in the U.K. have been much more measured than my friends and colleagues in the U.S. I apparently don’t know anyone in the U.K. who is pro-Brexit, but the reactions from those who are pro-Remain seem to range from uncertainty to downright fear. One colleague actually apologized for the global economic meltdown caused by the U.K. at the end of a technical conference call. Another colleague who is visiting our office this week told me he was “absolutely terrified”.

    However, my left-leaning friends and colleagues in the U.S. seem to be absolutely livid and their explanations of how this travesty could have occurred is a) the voters were lied to b) the voters are ignorant and/or racist and/or c) there are important policies that should not be left to the voters. Now, I’m quite used to people attempted to delegitimize the opinions of those with whom they don’t agree, but the suggestion that the average voter should not have a say in important policies affecting their lives is shocking to me. I’m willing to give those on the left with whom I disagree the benefit of the doubt, but to suggest that voters do not decide seems to rip any common ground from under us and I find it hard to continue a discussion on those uncertain grounds.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” C.S. Lewis

    1. dell,

      Thanks for sharing your observations!

      “motivations of the press and academia?”

      The views of courtiers are those of their patrons.

      “when I think of “elites”, I tend to include those of us in the upper middle who have the luxury to divorce our opinions from our everyday economic survival.”

      These terms are vague. I think of elites as those wielding substantial power over groups, or the nation — what I call the Inner Party. That does not include what I call the “Outer Party” of small business owners, professionals, and middle managers. The rich who own almost everything are the bourgeoisie — the top few percent, led by the top 0.1%/

  2. Hmm, interesting. It is true, of course, about hiring immigrants.

    But I wonder if the reason isn’t even simpler than that. Brexit is “rocking the boat”. If you’re any kind of upper-middle or upper-anything (0.1%, 1%, 10%, 30%), you don’t want the boat rocked, so. Inversely, if you feel you got the short end of the stick, rocking the boat is exactly what you’re looking to do.

    1. Pete,

      I don’t know what “rocking the boat” means. Brexit is change, but UK’s leaders support many kinds of radical change. Pushing the UK into the EU is “rocking the boat” profoundly. Opening the borders to massive immigration is “rocking the boat”.

  3. I would offer that you left the key phrase out:
    “….. but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” C.S. Lewis”

    And I disagree about not “seeing ” such on this earth anytime soon. It is on display insidiously more frequently at the local level of governance weekly where I work and play. Slippery, slippery. Alarming in its approval by some. ” We do know better and what is best for them.”


    1. Breton,

      Perhaps so. These things are difficult to clearly see when we look at our own time.

      I look at our ideologically-based commissars and see people acting in their own self-interest. The new rules require enforcers. We see this most clearly at colleges and universities, with the new rules seeking diversity and equality and safe spaces and whatever — creating massive new bureaucracies of well-paid people wielding vast powers.

      Color me skeptical about the “sincerity” of their working for the “good of their victims”. Easy test: go to a college and interview guys prosecuted for sexual assault — with no force, weeks or months after the event, either with no evidence or despite strong exculpatory evidence, in a kangaroo court.

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