CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
Dec. 5, 2018
Ironic twist in Brexit aftermath? A more socialist country
The UK parliament has started a much-anticipated five-day debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposal. Lawmakers will vote to reject or accept the deal next week, a decision that will have ripple effects in Europe as well as within British domestic politics. Ian Greer, senior research associate at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, studies labor and competition in welfare states, including the UK. He says that politicians who campaigned for Brexit and those who voted in its favor may ultimately have unleashed a socialist wave.
“It is easy to understand the disgust of the British people in the political and economic elites who urged them to vote against Brexit. But I find it ironic that it was the traditional party of government - the Conservatives - that channeled this energy to push the country into a position of such deep uncertainty.
“Conservatives have long fought elections by arguing that Labor governments with trade union support will bring chaos. Now they can take the blame for the choice the country faces, between a potentially catastrophic 'hard Brexit', continued uncertainty under May's deal, and backing out of Brexit altogether. The People's Vote campaign might restore the center ground in British politics and provide a common focus for diverse parts of society that oppose Brexit.
“If Brexit does take place, a Labor government led by Jeremy Corbyn might be elected soon after, committed to reversing austerity, rebuilding the welfare state, and giving workers a stronger voice at work. Most Brexiteers do not want socialism, but such a radically new direction in government may turn out to be the direct consequence of their actions.”
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