A month ago Britain voted to leave the EU, and even today «Brexit» is the topic of the hour. We decided to figure out the reasons which are behind the curtain. It’s very important to understand all the points of the matter, cause Ukraine, on the contrary, eagers to become a part of Euro Union, and has to realize all the benefits and implications which are going to follow this important step.
A very good friend of ours and a business partner Peter Batty, who has been leaving in Ukraine for several years, shared his views towards Brexit and described situation in Britain in general.
Peter is British by origin, PHD and former editor on “BBC channel”.
А: Peter, what part of Great Britain are you from?
P: Originally I was born in a town which is called Shrewsbury , which is not far from Birmingham in the Midlands, England, but I lived most of my life in the south of England, in the country part which is called Dorset.
А: So, what attitude towards referendum is in this part of the GB?
Р: In Dorset, where I lived, they voted to leave almost entirely.
А: So why did this exact area vote for leaving?
Р: This is very complicated, enormous question. I think there are two major reasons, maybe some people won’t like me saying it, but I think that the British in general are still connected to the fact that we had an Empire, and that we ruled over one third of the world and, I think, it’s still in British mentality that we can do it again, we can stand on our own, we don’t need anybody else, and I think it’s very deep deep inside us. So the whole fear of being part of Europe, that even if we’ve been part of Europe for 40 years that for lots of British people doesn’t feel good.
The second reason why people voted to leave, because people wanted to give the power structure of the country a kicking, to protest. And the reason why they wanted to protest is very tied up with the policies of UK government for the last 25 years. Which have neglected to develop certain, very important areas of the country. Those areas are particularly the countryside and also formerly industrial cities, where manufacturing industry has basically finished, but government actually has done nothing to replace it. So in this part of the country there are awfully unhappy people, and frankly I understand why they are unhappy, and these parts of the country very largely wanted to leave.
А: So people from small towns wanted to leave because they thought that the reason of their problems was EU?
Р: Yes, but it’s not only small towns, large towns voted to leave too, especially in the north of England. The cities where the industry has collapsed, and where there’s no industry now, the jobs that are available for people are mostly not great, and most people in these cities, not the biggest but still very big, voted to leave.
А: What is your opinion about leaving?
Р: I think it’s crazy and disastrous, of course, it’s completely personal opinion, but I think it will be very bad for the country. I think that we live in a world that is increasingly about people being connected together, and the idea that one small country can separate itself from the biggest trading block in the world, if we talk about the EU, and economically succeed is very foolish.
А: But people think that leaving the EU will return them their working places and revive manufactories, isn’t it good?
Р: It’s very unlikely that manufacturing is going to revive in the UK.
Р: We don’t have the infrastructure anymore, we don’t have the skillsets, we don’t have raw materials and there’s no sustained government policy to develop manufacturing industry, and reviving process may take 25 years or more. But there’s not even sustained policy and no matter which party is in power they don’t pay much attention to this question. So I think that those who thought that referendum would revive manufacturing are crazy. But the “leave campaign” never said it would, they never claimed any economic development.
А: So the main goal of referendum was just to close the border?
Р: Yes. The main slogan of leave campaign was “To take back control” and the keyword was sovereignty. But If you look at the reality, you’ll see that being a member of EU GB has surrendered almost no sovereignty, because British government can always refuse to take part in EU directives, and anyway, all the laws in the EU have been voted on by the parliament and the British, as members of the EU parliament are part of the process, honestly I don’t think that much sovereignty has been given up at all. (8.40)
А: What’s going on in GB right now?
Р: Total chaos. We don’t have a prime minister, we don’t have a functioning government, we don’t have an effective opposition, because they’re trying to tear themselves apart, and all the people that were headline figures in the “leave campaign”, in the time since referendum, have effectively disappeared off the political scene.
The morning after the referendum, Cameron, the Prime minister, resigned. He didn’t campaign to leave, he campaigned to stay in the EU. So suddenly we have a government that doesn’t have a leader. That also means that the Conservatives, the governing party don’t have a leader either and have to get one.
There were two main Conservative figures in the “leave campaign”- Boris Johnson who used to be the mayor of London and Michael Gove, who has had two or three important positions in UK government. And they were leading figures from the Conservative party. And after Cameron said “I’m leaving” everybody thought, Boris Johnson would become the new Prime Minister. And what actually happened was that Michael Gove, who for years has been saying “I will not be Prime Minister. I do not want this job. I’m not qualified to do it” announced that he was going to stand for Prime Minister instead. Everybody thought he would support Boris Johnson but he stabbed him in the back.
There was a very disturbing e-mail, which found its way into public life, it was from his wife, who works for one of the nastiest newspapers in the UK “The Daily Mail”, which has always been trying to leave the EU, and the e-mail, nobody knows whether it was shared deliberately or by accident, probably deliberately, in my opinion, the e-mail was to Michael Gove’s team, and it basically said “We’ve got to support Michael, and then, she mentioned that two most important newspapers owners in the country, basically saying – they will support him. And after that, Gove, who didn’t want to be Prime Minister suddenly said that he was going to run for Prime Minister. Boris of course left, stunned by this, because he had no idea about Gove’s plans, he heard it from the newspapers, I think, rather than from his friends.
So now, the Conservative party is in the process of choosing their new leader. And they had initially 5 leaders. Two were voted out the first time. Yesterday they had the second round of voting and Michael Gove was voted out, so now he’s not even in the picture. So now we have two candidates. Interestingly, the very rare thing for UK: both are women. One of them is a minister with years of experience, and probably is quite a good person for the job, but there’s a problem as she campaigned to stay in EU, so you have to ask if people who voted to leave fear they might be overlooked. Her competitor, and this is just like a joke, her competitor is a woman that nobody had ever heard of until about 4 weeks ago: she has never had an important government position, she has never been even a junior minister, but because in the “Leave” campaign she was the only senior female she got a lot of publicity. And in the last few days it became obvious that she lied about her job history. She used to work in banking, she claims that she was chief investment officer, at a very serious investment consultancy, but she wasn’t, she was a part time assistant to SIO, with responsibility for negotiating pay deals.
А: What do you think will happen to economics, tourism, and relationships between UK and EU?
Р: Things will have to change, because all the agreements, trading negotiations, movement of labor it’s all tied up in being a member of EU, and since we’re no longer in EU everything will have to change. All the international law, all the international treaties, the Prime Minister can’t just go to New Zealand and say “Hey guys, lets trade” So now there is 2-3 years of negotiation of governments and leading departments. So its going to be disastrous for the UK, and will take at least 5 years.
А: Is it possible for UK to return to EU?
Р: I hope we’ll never leave, because the rest of Europe won’t let us get back for at least 25 years.
А: I know that Scotland didn’t want to leave, so how do they behave themselves now?
Р: In England and Wales a small majority voted to leave EU, but in Scotland a large majority voted to stay in the EU, same as Northern Ireland, incidentally so did London massively. So Scotland has their own parliament and their leader said: “We can’t allow Scotland to be forced to leave the EU” because more than 60% of Scots voted to stay. A couple of years ago there was an Independence referendum in Scotland, and they voted to stay in the UK. But it’s going to be another referendum and now they will vote to leave. I think in two years there won’t be a United Kingdom anymore.
А: So what is going on in general life?
Р: In England, police have reported a five times increase in what is called “hate crime”, people are being shouted at in the supermarket, because they look like foreigners “What are you still f*cking doing here? I voted to leave, get out of the country” and I don’t recognize my country, I don’t like what is happening and I don’t agree with that. So leaving is a total disaster for economics and politics, and it’s also a total nightmare for the atmosphere – because now there’s a minority of people who now think that they’re justified in being awful, disgusting, repulsive towards foreigners.
А: So tell us the conclusion
Р: I think that the country made a foolish decision, on basis of very bad information, I think they’ve been misled by the politicians who campaigned to leave. In conclusion we have a country without a government, but with lots of people who are frankly racists and feel they’re justified in letting their attitude out in the world.
А: Thank you, Peter. I hope everything will be alright, and your fears won’t come true.
As you can see, «Brexit» is not the solvation of all the problems, but only time will show us who’s in the right.