“Votes for Brexit and for Mr Trump were often cast as an expression of anger at a system that seems rigged. Unless policymakers grapple seriously with the problem of regional inequality, the fury of those voters will only increase.”
The Economist, 21 October 2017 (1)
The massive disparity between the rich and the poor in the UK, as so clearly demonstrated by this shameful chart, is partly driven by the mechanisms of globalisation. When countries with lots of low-wage workers begin trading with richer economies, pay for similarly skilled workers converges. Those in poor economies grow richer while in rich countries workers get poorer.
The forces that drive regional disparities are built into the mechanisms of globalisation, which makes them hard to resist, but even if globalisation were to stop in its tracks, the regions it has weakened, such as the UK, would not magically improve.
Votes for Brexit (and for Trump) may be seen as an expression of anger at a system that seems rigged against the poor. Unless policymakers grapple seriously with this problem of inequality, the fury of those voters will only increase.
According to Oxfam, Britain is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world and this contributed to the vote for Brexit. (2) The forces of globalisation driving such inequality will not be reduced by Brexit, if anything they will be multiplied. Brexit will not resolve inequality in the UK. Only sustained, coherent action by governments can address the genuine grievances of so many and Brexit is a hugely damaging distraction that simply compounds the problems and delays solutions.
Brexit must be stopped for everyone’s sake.