Brexit Conflict of Interests

There is a fundamental paradox at the center of the Leave “win” in the EU referendum, how to satisfy the very different groups involved (incidentally I’m writing this in part to reduce the length of an already over long blog which analyses a Telegraph column on Brexit.).

Its clear that the Leave campaign appealed to multiple groups, but in particular to 2 major groups which I’ll call the Anti and Pro Globalists.  I’m not going to cover in detail the validity of each position however I hope to highlight the radical and likely incompatible differences between them.  Please note the below groupings are by necessity generalizations, obviously there will be a spectrum of attitudes and many people will not simply fit in one group.


“Anti-globalists” are concerned about immigration, wages, pressure on public services, zero hour contract and other insecure jobs.  They will generally be against free movement, globalization and free trade insofar as they believe that these issues create uncertainty and insecurity.  An unfair categorization might be that they represent the “drawbridge up” mentality.

They will likely be pro higher taxes for the well off and for companies, pro workers rights, pro public services and would generally like to see more flexible accommodation options through either cheaper housing, reduced rents or more council housing choice.

The leave campaign were able to convince this group that the EU, and specifically Immigration, was a major factor in the above issues, and that leaving the EU would solve them.


The second group is far smaller than the first however conversely it holds most of the power.  These “pro-globalists” are concerned about “excessive” regulation, a lack of world trade deals and general inflexibility which they perceive as being the major downsides of EU membership.  Fundamentally they are free marketeers.  They resent the limitations that EU membership creates around workers rights, new trade deals etc and believe that the market should find its own level in most areas. As such they will likely have little interest in limiting immigration as free movement is just another free market.  They will also likely have little interest in housing intervention, believing that people can and should move to areas of cheaper housing rather than relying on state intervention to manage the issue.

Finally as free marketeers they will generally believe in small state and will look for public services to move into the private sector, which they believe will become more efficient over time due to market forces.

Most importantly, they believe in unrestricted free trade with the rest of the world.  As such they represent the “smash the drawbridge” mentality.


Clearly of course there are other issues around nationalism (which can move into racism)  and sovereignty/democracy however I won’t cover these here.

A (simplistic)  categorization would say that the official Vote Leave campaign under Johnson began with an appeal to the pro-globalists, whereas Leave.EU under UKIP and Farage appealed to the anti-globalists.

This division is seen most clearly in the current paradox facing the Brexit leaders post referendum.  Having appealed to the anti-globalists on a platform of immigration they must now try to satisfy two conflicting sets of interests, whilst also reaching out to the 48%.  And all this has to occur whilst negotiating with 27 other countries who, understandably, are somewhat miffed.

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