Summary: The EU’s own polls show that immigration is the top concern of its people. Unless they change course, Britain might be just the fist to leave. Also, after declaring its supporters to be racists, now some on the Left adopt the Brexit vote as an expression of their views and policies. They ignore the paramount role of massive immigration. Their blindness to this is logical, since it is one of their top priorities — and deeply unpopular with the public. Here is some evidence about its role in Brexit, data you will probably not see elsewhere.
One sign of the changing political dynamics in the West is the number of issues which have supporters and opponents on both Left and Right. America’s foreign wars are one example; Brexit is another. The Right more easily claims Brexit as their own, having long-held suspicions of the EU.
The Left also does so, but requires more contortions. Before the vote they described Brexit supporters as racists. But everybody loves a winner, and now some on the Left claim it as their own — for two reasons. First, as a rebellion against the establishment (although co-rulers of Europe, they effortlessly don the robes of outcasts). Second, they attribute Brexit to stress from rising inequality and dislike of the 1%. A good example of this is Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept in “Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions”. I am a fan, but he imposes his values and concerns onto those of the British “leave” voters, without much evidence.
Another example is “Inequality not personalities drove Britain to Brexit” by Matthew Goodwin (prof politics at U of Kent) at Politico — “Angst, alienation and resentment fueled the vote to leave the EU.” At least he mentions immigration, but only mixed in with traditional leftist causes.
These stories do not well match the facts. Most importantly, they ignore the large role of immigration. Greenwald never mentions it. This blindness is understandable. Support for mass immigration is a defining characteristic of the Left today. Greenwald cannot fairly speak of it, so he closes his eyes and pretends the issue doesn’t exist.
Politico gives a more detailed and well-supported analysis: “The behind-the-scenes story of a failed campaign to keep Britain in the European Union”. Note the large role of immigration. For more evidence of this see “Why Immigration Pushed Britons to Brexit” by Reihan Salam at Slate.
For stronger evidence about the key role of immigration in Brexit — and why other nations might follow the UK’s example — see the most recent of the EU’s extensive public opinion surveys: the Autumn 2015 report of the Standard Eurobarometer conducted during 7 – 17 November 2015 in the 28 Member States of the EU. The results tell us much, for this was a significant period for Europe.
“The refugee crisis entered a new phase in summer 2015, when more than 100,000 people a month entered Europe by sea in August, September and October. This means that almost 900,000 refugees and migrants entered the EU by sea in 2015, compared with 216,054 in 2014. During his State of the Union Address on 9 September 20155, Jean-Claude Juncker emphasised the crucial importance of this issue for the EU: “The first priority today is and must be addressing the refugee crisis”. …On 13 November, Paris suffered the most deadly terrorist attacks in France since the Second World War, in which 130 people were killed. Islamic State claimed responsibility.”
The poll clearly shows that people in the EU are very concerned about immigration, and becoming more so: “Immigration is now the main concern at national level…”.