As I discuss in today’s WaPo, Brexit was a function of many factors:
–PM David Cameron’s reckless, opportunistic political gambit: calling for the referendum back in 2013 to assuage his far right Euro-skeptics in time for the upcoming election.
–Strong anti-immigration and anti-globalization sentiments. The unleashed xenophobia, surely linked to the refugee crisis, is to my thinking the worst part of all of this. Re globalization, UK voters (and probably US ones as well) finally had enough of elite economists and politicians lecturing them that if they only understood “comparative advantage” (the productivity-enhancing benefits of trade) and shut up about “factor price equalization” (the costs of trading with low-wage countries), they’d realize how great expanded trade has been for them.
–The stark polarization between the urban and economically dynamic parts of Britain (Remainers) and the rest (Leavers).
–Distrust of the EU given their mismanagement of the recession and the recovery, which oftentimes seemed wholly unresponsive to the people on the wrong side of their decisions, people that appeared to have little in the way of voice or democratic recourse.
And a big part of this mismanagement, one that hasn’t gotten enough attention, was fiscal austerity.
What matters next is, if the UK economy is hard hit by the fallout, whether this destructive fever breaks. Odds are, unfortunately, that it will not.