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Dr Muriel Newman

Lessons from Brexit

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Brexit“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
– Remain: 16,141,241 – 48.1%
– Leave: 17,410,742 – 51.9%

After one of the most divisive campaigns in British history, the UK is now preparing for a future outside of the European Union. After 43 years as part of the alliance, the Brits surprised all predictions with 52 percent voting in favour of leaving.

The debate got dirty. Boris Johnson, the former London mayor, who led the “Leave” campaign, accused the European Union of pursuing similar goals to Hitler in trying to create an all powerful superstate. He charged his former best friend, Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the “Remain” campaign, with scaremongering: “I think all this talk of World War Three and bubonic plague is totally demented.”

The majority of voters ignored the pleas to remain from most British MPs, world leaders including President Obama, almost every trade union, employers’ groups, academics, sports stars and other famous people. The result has been described as the biggest slap in the face ever delivered to the establishment by ordinary people – who demonstrated an astonishing determination and scepticism in face of an unprecedented fear campaign.

The fallout has been widespread. In the wake of the defeat, Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, and a coup is underway to oust the Labour Party leader, who many described as lacklustre during the campaign. Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU, is now threatening to pull out of the UK, and Northern Ireland is considering reunification so it too can stay in the EU. The British pound had its largest fall in many decades, and stock markets around the world remain volatile.

Meanwhile, EU leaders are worried that other member countries may want to follow Britain’s lead – and with good reason.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch anti-immigrant PVV party, wants to make a Dutch referendum on EU membership a central theme of his campaign to become prime minister next year: “I congratulate the British people for beating the political elite in both London and Brussels and I think we can do the same. We should have a referendum about a ‘Nexit’ as soon as possible.”

Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right National Front leader called the referendum a ‘Victory for freedom’ and said, “We now need to hold the same referendum in France and in other EU countries.”

The leader of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party Kristian Thulesen Dahl, an ally of Denmark’s right-leaning government, also called for a referendum: “I believe that the Danes should have a referendum on whether we want to follow Britain or keep things the way we have it now”.

In Sweden, Jimme Akesson, the leader of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party, which holds the balance of power, is pushing for a for a ‘Swexit’: “We demand that Sweden immediately starts to renegotiate the EU deals we have made and that the Swedish people will be able to speak up about a future EU-membership in a referendum”.

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party called for the heads of the European Commission and European Parliament to resign after the Brexit vote, and said it may also call for a referendum unless the EU is reformed.

In Italy, the second most popular party, the opposition 5-Star Movement described the result as a lesson in democracy and promised to pursue its own proposal for a “consultative” or non-binding referendum on whether the country should remain in the euro zone.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban called for reform of the EU: “Brussels must hear the voice of the people; this is the biggest lesson from this decision”.

In Athens, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the leader of the right-wing Golden Dawn party, predicted the referendum would empower “nationalist forces” across Europe: “I hope that sometime a referendum can be held in Greece, which has been brought to its knees economically and enslaved, assigning its national sovereignty to the Europe of usurers.”

A number of recent polls have shown that across Europe, anti-EU sentiment is increasing, and the call for EU powers to be returned to national governments is growing stronger.

The EU has only itself to blame.

The concept of European integration emerged after World War Two and led to the formation of the European Economic Community, or Common Market, in 1957. Britain joined in 1973.  The European Union was formally established by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, and further refined by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The Euro, which was introduced in 2002, is the common currency of 19 of the 28 EU member states.

The EU is based on four founding principles – the free movement of people, goods, services and capital. EU founders believed that enabling people to move from countries with no jobs to countries with labour shortages, would not only boost European growth, but would help to prevent war by encouraging people to mix across borders. In that regard, the EU was both an economic free trade project and a social engineering experiment.

But from the beginning, there were concerns that the EU would morph from its primary role of facilitating free trade amongst nations of the European continent as a single market, into a political power base intent on imposing a common government on Europe. What has evolved over four decades has confirmed those fears. The EU is now a bloated bureaucracy employing some 50,000 people, who pass laws that no-one asked for, that no-one wants, and that no democratic government can change.

Ridiculous examples of such law-making were quoted during the campaign including rules that specify bananas must be ‘free from abnormal curvature’, that cucumbers need to be ‘almost perfectly straight’, and that manufacturers of bottled water can’t use labels stating that drinking water reduces dehydration because the European Commission ruled that drinking water ‘does not ease dehydration’!

A plan by the European Commission to ban the manufacture, importation, and sale of vacuum cleaners, hair-dryers and other domestic appliances above a 1,600-watt limit – as part of a drive to reduce domestic electricity use – resulted in such an outcry that it was dropped. This was also the fate of a doomed proposal to ban the use of traditional refillable olive oil bottles on restaurant tables throughout the EU, and replace them with non-refillable bottles with proper labelling and tamper-proof lids.

At its heart, the Brexit vote was all about ordinary people thumbing their noses at arrogant socialist bureaucrats imposing their own naive ideals onto others and taking away the rights of individuals and their countries to make their own decisions. Given the history and character of the British, it was inevitable that at some point people power would say enough was enough.

By rejecting the European project as a failed social experiment, voters in Britain turned their back on the EU. They wanted the UK to again become independent and self-governing, living under its own laws and setting its own destiny.

The major underlying concern of British voters was immigration.

The principle of free movement gives all EU citizens the right to travel, live and work wherever they wish. But Britain, with an average wage many times higher than in Eastern Europe, became a magnet for people from the East. And there was nothing the UK Government could do about it.

In response to growing public concerns about the changing face of their communities, along with the impact of immigration on jobs and local services, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged, in last year’s election, to reduce the number of immigrants coming into Britain. He wanted to negotiate a new deal with the EU ahead of the referendum. But his failure to achieve any meaningful change, simply entrenched the nationalist view at home.

In order to bring net immigration down from around 300,000 a year to below 100,000 – as he pledged at the last election – the Prime Minister has had to crack down on those coming to the UK from outside the EU, including New Zealand.

Essentially that has meant turning away highly skilled non-Europeans in favour of unskilled workers from within the EU.

Growing public concerns over immigration were also compounded by the EU’s failure to effectively address the refugee crisis.

Under the Dublin Convention, the EU protects its external borders by requiring refugees to claim asylum in the first country they enter. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s offer to settle any Syrians who made it as far as their border, totally undermined the system. It not only resulted in tens of thousands of desperate people forcing themselves across borders, but it also fuelled people-trafficking on such a massive scale that almost 3,000 people have died in the Mediterranean so far this year alone.

While Britain has been shielded from the worst of the migrant crisis by its geography and its decision to opt out of the Schengen Agreement – which largely abolished border controls between 26 member nations – the relentless nature of this tragic problem and the high human cost, have reinforced in the British public’s mind the EU’s political incompetence.

In his article Trade and Immigration After Brexit, this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Professor Richard Epstein of the New York University Law School explains, “The difficulty with the EU is that Great Britain had to take the bitter with the sweet. To gain access to the stagnant EU, it had to accept the power of the EU to block the trade deals that Britain could make with Canada, India, and the United States…”

He suggests that the potential gains for the UK from such deals, would be enormous – a point not lost on New Zealand, which is already eyeing up potential opportunities for a quick trade deal, by offering to send some of our experienced trade negotiators to the UK to help them set up their own infrastructure, instead of relying on EU.

At the present time the European Union is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, with trade in goods and services valued at over $19 billion in 2015. Our exports were worth $8 billion, in mainly sheep meat, fruit, wine, tourism, transport and education, and our imports, worth $11.6 billion, were largely motor vehicles, aircraft, and medicines.

Exports to the UK were worth around $3 billion and imports around $2 billion. The UK accounts for over $4 billion of Foreign Direct Investment into New Zealand – 4.4 percent of the total. Over 13,000 UK residents migrated permanently to New Zealand last year (11 percent of total migrants), and almost 10,000 Kiwis went to live in the UK.

When it comes to what lessons New Zealand can learn from Brexit, the most important one is for politicians – and that is that in a democracy, people matter.

The problem we face is that when it comes to difficult issues, most politicians stop listening and develop a ‘we know best’ attitude – especially when the concerns are about politically sensitive matters like race. In New Zealand, this not only covers unease about immigration and its effect on our culture, but also alarm over the relentless push by tribal elites for racial privilege.

It is time the Government started listening to the concerns of ordinary citizens and realised that New Zealanders do not want a race -based society. If they continue to ignore these public concerns over race, the Government may well get a rude awakening – perhaps similar to that now being experienced in the UK and the EU.

For what Brexit has shown is that when issues connect with the heartfelt concerns of ordinary people, the results can shatter the establishment. If a political leader is prepared to push for a binding referendum for a colour blind society as an election pledge in 2017, the result for New Zealand could be just as profound as the Brexit vote in Britain.


Do you think that the UK leaving the EU will be good for New Zealand? 


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


Yes, but the UK is not out of the woods yet. The Globalists will fight tooth and nail to prevent their long-term plans from being disrupted. Scott
A small step towards strengthening ties within the English speaking family. Sam
Best political decision made in decades. I can not believe that the Europeons unelected politicians overrode British Law.. Dene
It may educate our politicians to pay attention to the people and cut out the imminent racism. Brian
The EU wants domination not freedom. They are corrupt. Bruce
They should have never gone in. Richard
We have an affinity with the UK which will benefit us especially at this time. New trade opportunities will also be attractive. Neil
But nor are the TPPA and Key’s machinations with Obama. Mark
NZ government Politics is stuck in denial. Forced-globalisation has in fact failed. A new direction has been required for some time. The Housing Crisis in Auckland is just the beginning of a series of crisis events that will compound unless addressed from a New Zealand only perspective. Frederick
It will take time for UK to settle down, but in the long term I think it will be better for the UK and NZ. Kelvin
We desperately need a binding referendum on a colour blind society preferably before the next election. UK will be fine but we need this type of society before we can move on as modern 21st century country. Monica
It should result in higher opportunities for NZ exports of goods & services as well as giving NZers more ability to gain valuable work experience that should ultimately benefit NZ. Keith
The general public have had a guts full of all the corupt politicians in brussels and some of the crazy laws they wanted to force on Britain. Richard
I think the UK leaving the EU will be good for NZ, and, for one reason, at last the NZ Public are sitting up and taking notice, that the Western World is in real danger of a loss of their democratic rights. I hope the voters don’t stop there, and push for disestablishment of the United Nations Organisation and empties their money trough too. Glenys
I really do not know and in truth, I do not care. However, In my view, we have quite enough British people here already and New Zealand does not need any more whingers and moaners trying to recreate here what they never really had in Britain anyway. Peter
I had to click on No but I think this Brexit business is a can of worms which has to unravel itself over the next 5 years or so. Until then we will have to sit on the fence and see how this whole affair will pan out in re to us as a nation. Events like these open up to a plethora of speculations and will keep media and our political commentators busy for some time to come. Michael
I think you are asking the wrong question. Do I think the UK have the right to determine their own destiny? Well, yes they do, and the rest of the world will just have to deal with it as necessary! Neil
Slowly, but surely. Nigel
It will take some time for the dust to settle, but the future should be not much changed for NZ, with a good chance of closer relations being restored. A.G.R.
Could be, but better for UK. Alan
Now we can negotiate directly with the UK and not through the EU. Edward
The UK leaving the EU may in the short term produce some minuses for New Zealand but before long I believe there will be considerable benefits. Don’t forget that when Britain joined the EU in the 1970’s we faced considerable loss of exports. Of course Britain will now have the choice of a number of countries from which to import goods but I would expect our exports to Britain could increase as a result of Brexit. Rob
Pre-Common Market, trade between Australia/NZ with the UK was massive. It let to the development of refrigerated cargo shipping and the growth of wharf/stevedore jobs in both NZ and Australia to service those ships. after the early 1970’s, NZ ports never saw a Blue Star, Port Line, Shaw Saville or Blue Funnel Line ship again, and the British Merchant Navy fell into decline. Vic
I believe that it will be good for NZ. Trade deals could well be on the table in favour of NZ. UK taking back its sovereignty and thus making its own decisions and bearing in mind our previous successful links with the UK may well prove to be to our advantage. Audrey
Possibly – time will tell. Isabel
Good for the world. A federated Europe with a French / German lead is not a good path. Lionel
Bugger the poms. Bill
By its very socialist nature the E.U. is bound to fail. It will last only as long as those who continue to allow themselves to be bought. I commend to your attention, three supremely good on line documentaries by a FORMER communist, Martin Durkin. BREXIT: The Full Movie 71m., Released, May 2nd 2016. MARGARET THATCHER: The Death of a Revolutionary. THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE. Don
Time us little people took a stand in this country and gave our pollies a good slap. We are heading into a similar situation if we ratify the TPPA. The fat cats, including in NZ need to listen to us and stop being greedy and arrogant. Trump is waking up apathetic Americans and Britain has spoken! Wake up John key!, you have lost my support, and that of a lot of voters. Go Winston! Carolyn
I would love to see a stronger alliance with the Commonwealth; there exists a wide range of product and services that compliment us all, more so than trading with Eastern Countries. Peter
It must free them up to more effectively trade with us again if nothing else. Eric
And over time good for the UK as well. Neville
I think it will help us unite Commonwealth Countries again and also level the Trading playing fields between those countries. Laurel
Immigration policy is speaking, they don’t want Islamic immigrants and neither do we in such large numbers with large numbers of children to support. George
Not immediately, but over time it will – unless the EU get nasty. Gary
In the long run I don’t think it can hurt. Maddi
Goliath has been dumped by the Davids of this world. Douglas
Weren’t we the 2nd richest country in the world before Britain joined the Eu? We would lift again provided we take a lesson from Britain and stay out of the TPPA. Nothing worse than losing your sovereignty! Britain is a first World country and a far superior trading partner, by trading with the 3rd World we will end up one ourselves and look at our job losses as a result of being unable to compete! George
Yes, it will be good for us. But the UK will benefit the most. The concept was good in the beginning but as the article stated things started to get out of hand. It always happens, history tells us that. Dennis
Hopefully we will get an increased trade with UK, which might remind us of happier Commonwealth times? Ross
Possibly yes but who knows what will happen. Perhaps it is all about regaining power over your own destiny. Fiona
Only for some of our goods that Britain want. New Zealanders traveling to the UK might get better and not treaded like 2nd class people. Robert
Should help if free trade agreements can be continued. Keith
I think its great that the UK has made this bold move and at the end will be far better off out of the EU of which has been dominated by Germany and France. This will give the U K time to form trade arrangements and will be far better off in the end and NZ will have better access to the UK. Ken
Hopefully we should regain some of the export orders we lost when Britain sold us down the river when they joined the EU. Peter
Britain is no longer the world power it was 100 years ago. The EU has 500 million plus population and Britain about 60 Million. If we try and do deals with them we may upset the EU and lose more than we gain from a trade deal with Britain. My crystal ball is a bit cloudy at the moment Colin
If only to provide encouragement to everyday people to challenge bureaucratic stupidity, There are strong similarities between the EU bureaucracy and that of Auckland’s Super City. Robert
Silly idiots! Robert
Darn right it will!! Bruce
The EU should have sticked to being a trading block, the original reason for it to be formed. That benefit is obvious but it should not permit it to dictate to all nations who are members. The “we know best attitude” will fail every time, everywhere, The people will not be denied the Democratic principles. Indeed, this should be huge wake up call for anybody seeking to undermine Democracy in New Zealand as well. Folkert
Good for NZ & UK. Barry
It has to be breaking away from the EU and its stupidity. Fraser
If it isn’t we will have missed a great opportunity. Mike
Absolutely yes. Close the door and lock it for the stream of so called refugees. very few are real refugees. The EU is a extreme costly self serving type of government. The UK will be better of and so will NZ. Johan
More trade. John
A very different world from the time the UK voted to join the Common Market. Pamela
Talk about the phrase of Whinging Poms they voted for this situation, the majority prevails so why don’t they just accept the result and get on with life. Move on Pommies. Graham
Good question. Probably, on balance, yes. But the government will have to balance the probable effect on our balance of trade against the needs of NZ citizens. No more wastage on useless referenda like the FLAG debate. Quite a change in attitude towards the new state of apartheid reigning in this country at this time. (don’t pretend it does not exist!!) Bearing in mind the Maori preferential treatment when there’s hardly a real Maori in sight, we have to get that sorted out and return to a rational democracy. one people, one nation, one vote. If we can manage do all that without shooting ourselves in both feet, and concentrate on what really matters to everyone in NZ : food supplies, (in the right places to those most in need) child welfare (not race based) Not forgetting the Health vote – including funds for medications for those in critical need – and get totally rid of all this absolute Rubbish about giving away our water supplies, maybe we’d be in with a sporting chance of survival. both economically and health-wise. If we continue to ignore all those essential issues, instead of balancing our own books, you/we may as well pull down the curtains and quit. Despite the fact that NZ seems to be awash with money, we have to get our priorities right, and Brexit’s fall out will be much more easily dealt with. It’s called “putting our own house inn order” to cope with the changes. Mabel
Yes a great day for democracy. You’d better watch Shonkey Winne could well be the next NZ prime minister. Greg
On balance probably not much better or worse. Raiford
To stand strong as independent from EU Britain will need to secure trade from old friends. Anon
In the long term. I think our gov. needs to now listen to national refererendums not ignore or cast them aside. It is going to be a big learning curve for everyone. The new world order needs stopping. Anthony
An excellent result. The EU has become a monster, controlled by a faceless, overpaid army of bureaucrats, who have no concept whatsoever of the needs and aspirations of “the man on the Clapham omnibus”. They don’t have much of a grip on the needs of the middle and lower income classes in the rest of the EU either. And the “one size fits all” common currency has been a disaster. Thank goodness Britain retained the pound. As a “Pom” myself, I know that the Brits will be fine once the initial uproar has died down. And let’s face it, the British have always been reluctant “Europeans”. Les
It was clearly all about the open border policy and sovereignty issues good on them. Margaret
I am not sure how good it will be for NZ but believe it will certainly be good for UK to leave the EU. there is so much propoganda around this issue most people only listen to what mainstream media says and we all know that much of that is controlled by certain parties with their own agenda fed to the people as news. Julie
Easier access to what is reputedly the world’s fifth-largest economy must put New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries on a winner! Paul
We need to send a strong message to Politician’s. Steve
After reading the Article on what the EU has become, only a Moron would vote for Britain to stay with them. Pierre
I don’t remember why they joined the EU in the first place 🙂 Tom
Really will not have much or any effect at all. Ian
Yes, it’s great news and can only be good for us as well as for the UK. At least they will be able to control their borders now and have more money to spend on their own their own country. All the doomsayers will soon be proved totally wrong. The UK will thrive. Helen
Guaging from the way I think and obviously the way most other intelligent and analytical people think, Britain’s exit from the EU follows along on the thinking of the Trump followers in the US. If we had a Trump in NZ, I would definitely be supporting him. If we don’t get rid of the shackles of the UN and the politically correct (read communist) regimen, our country is doomed too. I hope enough people world wide wake up in time to prevent the west from sleepwalking into communist hands. Dianna
Good for NZ but a sorry situation for Europe. Jim
It will be good for NZ and democracy internationally. Be warned all self serving arrogant bureaucrats; karma is alive and kicking. Gary
It’s about time us Kiwi’s gave our politicians a good slap on the face as well, for the mess they’ve gotten us into. Good on the people of Britain for standing up for themselves. The last thing they need is more undesirables crossing their border and stuffing the country with radical muslim. Stevo
They wont have EU telling them what to do. Colin
As a lesson in true democracy and the need for everyone to vote. Gary
Opens up all sorts of opportunities for NZ especially if other EU countries leave. NZ could form direct trade agreements… Simon
Definitely, we can do separate trade deals with them. Graeme
Particularly if the politicians stop their elitist arrogance, and their push for apartheid is chopped. Peter
Hell yes. Tony
The UK will be better off as it loses the shackles of the bloated EU bureaucracy and puts a stop to the problems of immigration. NZ will benefit as an independent trader. Tom
Take note all politicians. Kevin
It might wake up some of our local MP’s to the dangers of uncontrolled immigration and racial bias. Mark
Looks as though the UK has now decided to be part of the commonwealth again? IAN
Voted Yes, BUT it depends on what happens after the impending UK election. Not only of a new PM. Boris has gone! The real solution would be to eat humble pie and ask David Cameron to re-stand.!!! He has the ability to compromise and to unite a Britain outside the E.U. Let us hope that this signals the end of the E.U. and hopefully of our politicians’ abysmal prostitution of New Zealand on the altar of the United Nation. Total Globalization is dead, Amalgamation a dead duck… WAKE UP TIME TAKE NOTICE AUCKLAND SUPER CITY. BRIAN
The best thing for NZ we will sell more goods & have better access for jobs there. Geoff
At the very least, it conveys that “the people” do not want global government by unelected bureaucrats. Three cheers for democracy! Fiona
Having lived in the UK I can see why they got frustrated by all the stupid rules being made by the EU. Time could be tough for a while though. Tim
I appreciate the good work you are doing with NZCPR. Ian
Certainly shows NZ that the tribal elite and national better look out for their racial attitudes and actions in future. Lance
Only in so far as it might make other countries think twice about unlimited immigration. Bill
Anything to be out of the bureaucratic socialist ‘one world’ monolithic monster in Brussels would be beneficial. Stuart
Yes good to see Britian take a positive step to come out of the EU, can only have a positive outcome. Russell
The EU hopefully is finished and will disappear in due course. Many years ago New Scientist magazine aired an article about people wanting small government not bigger institutions that ignored the human side of life. This never happened until now an awareness is creeping in. People are essentially tribal and do not care for outsiders. Calling people racists for feeling this way is mindless and quite painless to the individual that expresses dislike of people with other ideals and religious beliefs. Being invaded by vast hoards of people who do not speak the language of the host country is not ‘multiculturalism’ and everybody holding hands and singing while dancing round the fire with toasted marshmallows. The British public understand this and have voted accordingly. I expect that worthless drip who stands for nothing in Wellington to take note that too many of our problems are being created by allowing people who have no value to NZ from em migrating here. selling us out for filthy lucre will not make NZ a wonderful place to live in the future. Charles
Hopefully opening new doors for trade with the U K. John
Where Briton goes New Zealand will follow. John
Good for the world. Chris
The EU is a failed experiment, hopefully the rest of the world will learn from it. John
Yes, it is a great result and it will be good for NZ and other Commonwealth countries. Good on them! Mary
We will benefit from trade and closer relations. The sooner they are out of the EU mess the better. But the EU won’t survive either. The call for national sovereignty is growing stronger by the day. Bob
The UK is best out of that socialist EU empire. James
I don’t know what all of the panic is about. The Brits are resilient – they will sort themselves out as soon as they are ready. And they will deal directly with us, which is really good news! Eric
Yes, it bodes well for NZ and the UK. Scotland and Ireland just have to be patient – it will be better for them out of the EU too. Stuart