Features > Cameron failed to appreciate effect of migration on the white working class voter

25 June 2016 | by Clifford Longley

Cameron failed to appreciate effect of migration on the white working class voter

Free movement of people has turned from a positive to inflexible dogma under the EU

The result of the referendum is an emphatic British rejection of the free movement of labour, which is at the heart of the EU single market. Many people in the UK, especially white working class people in old industrial areas and regardless of whichever way they voted, failed or refused to appreciate how massive immigration from elsewhere in the EU helps them achieve a decent standard of living. 

The conclusion that it does is counter-intuitive and people just don't get it. And yet they are told there is nothing they can do to change the free movement of labour. People feel this to be a contradiction to the idea of self-government.

But the real miscalculation is David Cameron's. Not simply for calling the referendum and for the way he conducted the campaign, but also in the longer term for failing to help ordinary people cope with the impact of immigration on public services that they have to rely upon. British public services are under enormous stress. Immigration makes that worse.

Millionaire Cameron and his wealthy Tory friends failed to realise the effect on school places, access to medical care and hospital services, the shortage of housing, and above all the lack of secure and worthwhile jobs at decent rates of pay.

Instead he persisted with his austerity policies across the nation, and which aggravated the effects of immigration rather than relieving it. I voted to remain, but as the campaign unfolded it became clear why ordinary people had reached a different conclusion.

One more thing. Leaders of the EU are also responsible for a grave miscalculation. They have turned the free movement of labour into an inflexible dogma.

Nobody has ever tried to explain to the British people why this was so important and therefore why it could not be modified. That was a failure to secure democratic consent - and a failure by the rest of the EU leadership to realise how important this was.

Dismayed European churches send warning to Brussels - all the best analysis in The Tablet newspaper this week

Share this story

Article List

Latest Issue
Digital/PDF Version

PDF version (iPad-friendly)

Previous Issues
Tablet Subscription

Manage my subcription here