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What Will Brexit Mean for Immigration?

By: Guest Contributor - Jul 19, 2016, 2:16 pm
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Boris Johnson (flickr)

By Daniel Salamanca-Pérez

It is astonishing that Brexit won, considering that just two years ago, the anti-secessionist campaign convinced the Scottish that Britain was “better together.” It is bewildering to find out that just a few hours later, the second-most googled question in the UK was “What is the EU?” and that some people were surprised the vote they casted actually took GB out of the EU, as was the case with this gentleman and many others, that voted leave and then found out that some of the arguments used during the campaign were actually false.

The triumph of Brexit is hardly a victory for liberalism as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and others have convinced their fellow Britons, the latter being a man who is married to a German lady, feels uncomfortable with the many languages spoken in the London Metro and who also claims to be a libertarian. What about open borders and the cosmopolitism so characteristic of British liberalism?

On the contrary, any defender of liberalism should be able to see right through the campaign slogans and realize how this is directly hinting exacerbated nationalism and, perhaps, racism. Suffice to review the figures regarding the distribution of the vote for leave in accordance with income, level of education and age: The Brexiteers are in fact older and less educated. This should not be taken as a pejorative observation, but rather a statement confirming the fact that conservatism and nationalism were able to capitalize on the fear of the older blaming everything on immigrants and central planning. The “sovereign alternative” has to be handled with care, for it becomes the replacement of one evil bureaucracy for another.

Despite this, some of the folly of Brexit is surfacing. Those who fear immigration should pay attention to what’s happening. This June 29, Donald Tusk said “leaders made it crystal clear today that access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms, including the freedom of movement. There will be no single market ‘à la carte.”

Scottish separatists must be frothing at the mouth at the window that just opened for their campaign as the whole of the country voted to remain. The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon traveled to the EU to use this as an argument to keep her country within the EU, but as foreseeable as it was, the environment she found was all but receptive.

Nothing is final yet. Not only is the British economy is recovering after its initial shock, but the most likely replacement of Mr. Cameron — Mr. Boris Johnson — quit the race for Prime Minister.

The upcoming steps toward the materialization of Brexit are going to be difficult. Everything points to immigration being an unnegotiable stance and leverage from the EU against Britain to withdraw, and taking into account that countries like Switzerland and Norway have access to the European Market, though not members of the EU, have allowed “free” immigration according to the Schengen Agreement, all the struggle would have been pointless.

Salamanca-Pérez is an attorney and legal scholar