What were the root causes of Brexit? Was it about sovereignty and “taking back control”? Was it about immigration? Was it just a chance to give David Cameron’s government a good kicking?
Globalisation, immigration, lows wages, de-industrialisation – all of these have been blamed as root causes of Brexit. On the other hand, some argue that was no “real reason” why people voted for Brexit, because “Leavers” are all different and all had different motivations. This is obviously true, but it’s also unhelpful when trying to craft a policy response – it’s better to try and consider broadly the reasons that motivated the largest number of people.
We had a comment sent in by Duncan, who argued that Brexit was the symptom, not the disease. Unless European leaders can diagnose the root causes of Brexit, they will be unable to stop it happening again:
I have said it before, but it’s still true so I will say it again. Brexit was not the problem, it was a symptom. If symptoms go unnoticed then things get worse. The EU needed to change how it did things a long time ago if it really wanted the UK to stay. If it doesn’t want more countries to leave then it must change how it does things now. Maybe it’s already too late, maybe not. Only time will tell.
We recently had the chance to put Duncan’s question to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. Here’s what he had to say:
This is a simple question [with] thousands of answers. Of course, Brexit means that something is wrong in Europe. But Brexit means also that something was wrong in Britain.
If, over 40 years, you are explaining to your general public that the European Union is stupid, that it is worth nothing, that you have to leave, that European Union membership is not bringing any advantages to your population – you can’t be surprised if the day that you ask people: ‘Do you want to stay or do you want to leave?’ – that a too high number of British, in the case we are discussing, are expressing the view that it’s better to leave.
On Europe, there are so many lies. There are so many half-truths which are circulated around, that one cannot be surprised. But I’m not giving to the British vote only this explanation. I do think there was a European message in there too.
Why did the British vote for Brexit? What were the root causes of Brexit? And how can the EU prevent more countries following the UK out the exit door? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!