Culture & Art

All For London, And London For All?

When the UK voted on its EU future earlier this year, few expected the results to come back as they did. Nevertheless, when the “Leave” campaign prevailed, political scientists, journalists, and everyday folk like myself set about to researching why it happened. This chart by the BBC provides an in-depth breakdown of how each area voted. As you can see, London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland were heavily in the “Remain” camp, but they lost nonetheless. There was a huge turnout in rural areas of the UK where voters, most of whom have little contact with immigrants they imagine to be flooding in and taking their jobs, overwhelmed the rest of the country at polls.

So, let’s briefly look at some data. This great study from The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford. It has a special data set for countries that joined the EU (and thus guaranteed freedom of movement and work) after 2004. These countries reside mainly in Central/Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. According to that Oxford study, only 27% of EU citizens migrating to the UK came from Central/Eastern European EU countries (Figure 5). Just 27%! But paying attention to all the media coverage before and after the Brexit vote, you would think it was a lot higher. Why is that?

While numbers of immigrants have definitely surged in recent years as more people seek better employment and education abroad, there were many in the British media not willingly to accurately report this. Looking at sources like this
you can see the aggressive headlines can create angst among the publication’s readership. This is what I was curious about when I went to London. As the capital, it should be the ground zero for all the migration and the so called “job theft”.

However, I found all this reporting to be overhyped and unsubstantiated. While I did come in contact with a few restaurant servers and shop workers whom I could discern English was not their native language, the overwhelming majority of workers (especially construction workers on the street) were English born and bred. Why, then? Why do we give so much time and attention to rile up groups of people against each other? Wasn’t the whole point of the EU open borders to assimilate us in attempts to avert Europe’s bloody and war torn past?

It’s worth keeping all of this in mind when you walk the streets of whatever city and country you live in. Maybe it’s your home country. But even if it is, and even if people from other countries migrate their in search of only a better opportunity for themselves and their families, please approach the situation with an open mind and heart.

About The Author

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Nathan Shuftan

Nathan Shuftan is a long-time adventurer and first time blogger. Originally from Chicago but now based out of Berlin, he has worked the past few years as an across Europe, Asia, and Africa. He likes to keep moving because he believes you can't hit a moving target. His main interests are international relations, public policy, local political movements, sport, music, and food.