Nigel Follett: Rezension BREXITANNIA

BREXITANNIA – Great Britain’s Exit from the EU’

written by

Robert Tonks & Zakaria Rahmani

Zusammenfassend schlüsselt dieses Buch die vielfältigen Einflüsse auf die WählerInnen im Vorfeld des britischen EU-Referendums auf. Es gibt einen umfassenden Einblick in die ausschlaggebenden Faktoren und Motivationen der WählerInnen im Juni 2016 und beschreibt den sich entwickelnden politischen Sumpf, in dem sich die Tory-Regierung bei der Umsetzung des Brexit vor dem Hintergrund einer schrumpfenden Wirtschaft befindet.

Das Buch endet mit einem Epliog, der die Ereignisse ab 2016 bis Juli 2022 beschreibt: Er enthüllt den Mangel an qualitativ hochwertigen Debatten im Vorfeld der Abstimmung und bietet eine Zusammenfassung der Drehungen und Wendungen der Brexit-Umsetzung seit dem Referendum. Er beschreibt den aufkommenden Populismus, der die Tory-Politik antreibt. Er entlarvt den Mangel an Planung und Vorbereitung auf den Austritt aus der EU, der die Fähigkeit der Regierung lähmte, den Brexit effektiv umzusetzen und das Erbe des von ihr selbst ausgehandelten Nordirland-Protokolls zu lösen.

Following the shock result of the Brexit referendum in June 2016 Robert and Zakaria toured theUK in late summer of 2020 in search of answers to the question ‘why did Britain vote to leave the EU?’.

They spoke to people from all over the UK and took on board the input from experts, such as sociologists and political journalists both in the UK and Germany. Their approach was to take at face value the reasons people gave for voting the way they did, then to explore the voter context or personal situation to unearth the drivers of voting to leave. They found both a willingness to talk candidly and some unease amongst some family members to open up old wounds. Over 4 chapters they thread together the underlying motivations and fears, both historical and immediate, that shaped the way people voted.

Chapter 1 explores the legacy of the miners dispute in the early 1980’s, the fight to retain jobs that culminated in the ‘battle of Orgreave’, the impact that losing that fight had on mining communities and the response, or lack of it, of the government to retrain redundant miners and rebuild local economies. One is left feeling there is a deep-seated and lasting resentment of Margaret Thatcher, the Tory government and the Police in particular, and a mistrust of the state in general that spilled over into voting against the bureaucrats in Brussels.

Chapter 2 addresses the perennial political fight to win the hearts and minds of ‘middle England’ – the swing voters without ‘dyed in the wool’ allegiances who may vote either way. They also examine the fallacy of the north-south divide and the role of the media and prominent politicians in shaping public opinion. What were voters’ intentions in the weeks leading up to the referendum and did they stick with it or did a significant number change their minds in the run-up to the vote? If so, why?

Chapter 3 looks at the significance of the NHS to the health of the nation and, more importantly, the pride of place it has in the minds of voters alongside a deterioration in its ability to cope with increasing demand and maintain standards of service.

Chapter 4 takes a longer term view of historical events, such as President de Gaulle’s repeated refusal to allow Great Britain into the Common Market, and the yearning of some senior voters to rekindle the belief that, having survived the early years of the Second World War alone, we can do it again.

Finally, the Epilogue provides a synopsis of the twists and turns of Brexit implementation since the Referendum, exposing the paucity of quality debate leading up to the vote, the emergence of populism driving Tory policy and the lack of planning and preparation for leaving the EU that crippled the government’s ability to execute Brexit effectively and to resolve the legacy of the Northern Ireland Protocol it negotiated.

In summary, this book catalogues the influences on voters in the run-up to the Referendum, provides insight into the drivers and motivations of voters in June 2016 and describes the evolving political mire in which the Tory government has found itself executing Brexit against a backdrop of a shrinking economy.

Nigel Follett