As part of our Looking at Lexit series, we’ll be asking left-wing Brexit voters about their reasons for voting Leave. Our first “Everyday Lexiter” is Aisha, a 25-year-old journalist.
Describe your political outlook/background/loyalties.
Born in the early 1990s, I never used to vote in general elections because after Tony Blair it felt like a legitimisation of the electoral system, which is rigged to actively remove subsistence wealth, life and happiness from hundreds of millions of people. Growing up after the financial crisis you realise elections are privatised. I’d never witnessed democracy create anything worth voting for except in Greece, where people’s wishes were immediately overturned. But when friends convinced me that, as a young person, it was important to vote since the baby boomers weren’t going to change anything, I voted Green in 2015; later that year, I joined the Labour party, newly liberated from the centrist insurgency.
I believe all things should be equal for all people regardless of skills, race, age, intelligence, religion, species, disability, gender, sexuality, personality, work ethic, behavioural tendencies, access and citizenship. I believe wealth should be taken from the wealthy and transferred directly to the bank accounts of the poor until no one has more than anyone else. I believe reparations should be paid by the western world to all the peoples they have exploited and oppressed for centuries. I believe social equality is not possible without economic equality and “equality of opportunity” is a sham that protects the interests of people with power and access. Identity and identification have been calcified and weaponised by exclusion and oppression.
Describe, in two or three sentences, your political utopia: what your ideal community would look like, and how would it function?
It’s not possible to describe the right life from a wrong world, because we start from a position of such entangled evil that it would be very hard to disentangle without more evil, which I would not condone. But in my ideal community there would be equality of shelter, food and water for all. The world’s $107.5tn GDP would be at work freeing children from poverty, people from night shifts, animals from cages, homeless people from the street, while the surplus would remove carbon from the atmosphere and plastic from the sea. There would be no nation states. I do not know who would implement equality or what would happen to those who attempted to ruin everything.
More immediately, however, I can't see how leaving the customs union would bring us closer to these aims. Free trade agreements in general bolster calcified ideologies but a customs union in particular might be more limited and more practical. It would also lessen the blow for many small businesses and businesspeople who might otherwise be at the sharper edge of Brexit, and reduce pain for people in northern Ireland, which is a significant consideration. The divorce settlement as I see it is going well. Let the EU not relent in upholding the rights of citizens here but there should never be multiple courts exercising law in one country.
What was your main reason for voting for Brexit?
I have three reasons for voting for Brexit. The first is because I travelled extensively during the 2015 election campaign to constituencies where many people supported Ukip and held focus groups with voters. Many talked about the impact immigration has on jobs and wages but I never felt white supremacy was the first cause. Many were not white British.
My second reason is because the European Union was established during a period of terrible conflict to make politics more difficult through shared economic interests. “A laboratory atop a graveyard,” is what Czech politician Thomas Masaryk called it. However, politics (the possibility of changing things) is not inherently bad - in fact, I would argue it is crucial for self-governance and freedom. Instead shared economic interests have spawned a monster where free trade enables big international companies to benefit from tariff free zones, the predictability of stasis and easy replication.
My final reason is because Europe has a long and bloody history of imperialism that is more important than the EU. Colonialism is unacknowledged in the West - one has only to see the depiction of Winston Churchill on the new £5 note, widely reviled as a murderer and eugenicist around the world. Or the white-dominated curriculums of schools and universities despite the millions of imperial subjects that died on the bloody road to Britain’s modern prosperity. Why should Italian students have any more right to economic migration to France than North Africans? The European Union is a racist project that relegates people of colour to die in oceans while white Christians enjoy the fruits of one another’s exploitation. It is no coincidence that China has not been given status as a market economy and Turkey’s membership has been consistently stonewalled.
Were you influenced by any politicians? Friends, family, colleagues?
Everyone I know voted Remain except for my partner who believes in politics and hates the EU for killing choice in favour of technocracy. I wouldn't say he particularly influenced me in my view but it was great talking to him about it. I always knew that the European Union was a racist organisation in service of an evil status quo.
How would a Labour-led Brexit differ from a Tory one?
Vastly. Brexit happened because austerity has cauterised everyone but the most wealthy (in the world, not just the UK). The single market is the worst part of the EU. Let’s ditch the free movement of goods, services and capital and keep the freest movement of labour possible. We need hard Brexit with soft immigration, not the other way around! We need to write environmental targets, labour laws, human rights, privacy rules and product market regulation into our own laws as soon as possible. This means a Labour government - or anyone, really, who isn’t spending all their time reassuring Deutsche Bank.
How do you see the UK in five years’ time? How do you see Europe?
I imagine both to be pretty much the same except hopefully with Labour in charge there’ll be more discussion about how to redistribute wealth and remove people from poverty. Jeremy Corbyn has brought the word and ideals of socialism back into public conversation, and the Brexit vote has already made bankers and investment managers begin to talk about structural inequality. Perhaps soon we’ll start talking about what we need to destroy in order to rebuild a better society.
What would have to change about the EU, or the UK’s relationship with the EU, for you to support continued or renewed membership?
I never would. The European Union is inherently racist, unchanging, technocratic and oppressive. Nothing makes any of those things okay, not even a nice conversation, or falling in love with a French girl.