Leave Voters Have Been Unfairly Lambasted

Rachel Mantock
August 8, 2016

Following their victory in the referendum, many Leave voters have been subjected to a torrent of abuse and name-calling. Although both campaigns used deceptive tactics and scaremongering, many people voted to leave after carefully considering the issue and made their decision based on their view of the European Union as a flawed institution.

It’s inaccurate and reductive to label all Leave voters as racist, xenophobic and uneducated. Many voted against the EU as they consider it to be fundamentally undemocratic, run by unelected officials who wield more power than any government official should in the ‘democratic’ West. Being anti-EU doesn’t mean a person is anti-Europe; many Leave voters feel a deep camaraderie towards their continental neighbours. They don’t necessarily want Britain to sever ties with the rest of Europe, but they would like to see the break up or replacement of the EU as, in their view, the benefits to member states are outweighed by the costs.

The Vote Leave camp also lured a significant number of second-generation immigrants, threatened by a new wave of EU migrants who have bypassed the red tape and possibly displaced highly skilled Africans and Indians. Many Leave voters are keen to see the introduction of a fairer immigration system, which would use a points system to determine entry into the UK. They may understand and even admire EU migrants’ efforts to provide for their families and improve their lives by moving to a more prosperous nation, but it’s undeniable that the flow of migrants puts a strain on the UK's schooling, housing and healthcare systems. Not all Leave voters are racists hell-bent on ridding the country of immigrants.

Perhaps the most ironic element in the vitriol spouted at those who voted Leave was the claim that Brexiters have destroyed the future of the youth. Many older voters in both the Leave and Remain camps believed their decision would protect their children and grandchildren; it's unfair to brand all Leave voters as selfish. Arguably, the EU has failed young Europeans, with high levels of youth unemployment across much of the continent. It’s debatable whether that warrants the UK leaving the EU, but ignoring the point entirely and branding all Leave voters as self-serving is benighted. Moreover, the net migration from other EU member states to Germany and the UK suggests the EU has done little to benefit other nations.

Many Remain voters have painted their Leave counterparts as bigoted and intolerant. In doing so, they’ve displayed the same attitudes. They trumpeted tolerance in the lead up to the referendum but have shown little since losing. They shouldn’t tarnish all Leave voters with the same brush; many aren’t racist, ignorant or selfish. Instead, they are protesting the evolution of the EU from a beneficial trading bloc to a political powerhouse, which it was never meant to be.