They say that food is the best way in which to understand another culture. If this theory can be extended to politics and economics too, then fish and chips have cast a familiar cloud of fear over Brexiters and Britain.
It is not hard to draw parallels to nineteen-thirties Europe in the current European situation. Austerity has proven itself to fail in Greece. And in addressing the issue, Europe’s financiers have instead made bland justifications for more restrictions, which has fed into the xenophobic rhetoric of the far-right.
Further compounded by the refugee crisis and the fear of loose borders, the argument of Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom has taken a hideous turn away from the core issues to become overshadowed by fear and hysteria. The Brexit decision has effectively split Britain in two, and it’s foremost leave campaigners have called for the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. UKIP leader Nigel Farage put forward the motion after claiming victory to the media. Ignoring the murder of Labor Party politician Jo Cox stating ‘We’ve done it without a single bullet being fired.’ It’s a coup motion, another Beer Hall Putsch.
If Boris Johnson is to succeed David Cameron as the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, whether on purpose or by accident, then his timely resignation as mayor of London has perfectly coincided with the leave campaign, UKIP’s push to the ascendency, and the Conservative Party’s further swing to the right. But this campaign and the victory with it echoes feelings not of independence but irrational fear and nationalism.
Greece may have been the canary in the mine, but as Brexit proves, the problem itself lies not in one issue but the ruling elites denial of both the breadth and severity of the situation in Europe. Before his ministerial appointment within the Syriza government, economist Yanis Varoufakis claimed that ‘Europe’s elites are behaving today as if they understand neither the nature of the crisis that they are presiding over, nor its implications for the future of European civilisation.’ By refusing to admit the unsustainability of the task, governments ‘Are choosing to plunder the diminishing stocks of the weak and the dispossessed in order to plug the gaping holes of the financial sector’. This Brexit vote has merely given the weak and dispossessed a means to fight back, and act upon their fears of en masse immigration, terrorism, kebabs and korma.
The British exit from the European Union will reignite arguments of Euroscepticism across Europe. The idea of an EU-exit has supporters on both the left and right of politics, but both exist on the spectrum of political policy and there is no fear in the familiar nor fish and chips.
Varoufakis explains that an ‘Exit from the eurozone would soon lead to a fragmentation of European capitalism,’ which would likely result in new economic, monetary zones within the existing European Union – ‘Yielding a seriously recessionary surplus region east of the Rhine and north of the Alps, while the rest of Europe would be in the grip of vicious stagflation.’
Brexit is historic, not just for Britain but for the world. It is a snapshot of the human fear and panic. A portrait of the refugee camps and detention centres not just in Europe, but on Nauru and Manus too. This is democracy. This is what we’ve become.
Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.
Subscribe | Renew | Donate November 9–16 to support progressive literary culture for another year – and for the chance to win magnificent prizes!