The Brexit Irony



Bryson Milley

Financial Advisor & Portfolio Manager


There was no shortage of news and opinions about the Brexit vote this past June.  And while it made for good political theatre, I couldn’t help but wonder what the people on the ground really felt about it.  As luck would have it, the vote happened on June 23rd, and my family and I landed in London on June 27th.

London was in a bit of tizzy!  Not only was it street-side conversation, but within 250 metres of the Houses of Parliament, I counted more than 15 different news channels filing live reports on the evening news.  But, as entertaining as all this was, it was the locals’ response that was really interesting.

Close to 85% of Londoners voted in favour of staying in the European Union.  They felt an understanding of the global nature of their economy and the need to stay connected.  A friend in London described the mood in the city as “embarrassment”.

We then spent some time in the English countryside, and here the opinion was quite the opposite.  Close to 85% of rural England voted in favour of leaving.  One person said to me, they were proud they had made London squirm.  When I asked folks why, the answer was because all the immigration was making it harder for them to keep jobs, and the farmers were tired of their quotas being dictated by the EU.  Both groups wanted “control of their lives back”.

Sadly, in my opinion it is rural England who will pay the biggest price for leaving the EU.  Instead of having to compete against new immigrants for their jobs, the jobs and the immigrants will move to the EU.  For farmers, I suspect the EU will pass the quotas to their members for farm and dairy products, leaving the English farmers with a substantially smaller customer base… quota or no quota.

Add this all up and I would say to those who voted to leave: “Be careful of what you wish for.”  My sad prediction is that if the English policy-makers follow through with exiting the EU, England will find itself in a prolonged recession.  And the people who voted to leave the EU will be hit the hardest.  They want control, but I fear they will have that much less than they had.
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