Book review: What made us vote to leave the EU

Book review: What made us vote to leave the EU

The Great Brexit Swindle: Why the mega-rich and free market fanatics conspired to force Britain from the European Union by T J Coles

In The Great Brexit Swindle, author T J Coles explains that Brexit happened because:

1.    It suited the interests of the US. After WW2, a united Europe suited the US as a “bulwark” against the Soviet Union, but with the end of the cold war, a united Europe, especially one that erected trade barriers to US products and services, was no longer attractive or suited US interests.  

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2.    A small number of wealthy, London-based hedge fund managers decided to back the Leave campaign as they did not like Brussels bringing in regulation that might have placed more onerous capital adequacy and reporting requirement on their businesses.  

3.    The “internationalists” in the Conservative party, having assessed Britain’s role in Europe, decided that Britain’s best interests would be served by investing more in emerging markets than in Europe. This group now dominates Theresa May’s government.

The above three interests came together at the same time for the “neo-liberals” among our policymaking elite. This elite had been espousing a laissez-faire approach since the Margaret Thatcher era, expecting the wealth acquired from trade and investment to trickle down to the working class and spread. In reality, while some people did join the ranks of the wealthy, many more found themselves poorer, especially as the benefit safety net was steadily withdrawn. 

So Brexit happened because the “internationalists” managed to convince the working class that the consequences of “neo-liberalism” – less job security, economic downturn and falling living standards – were down to immigration and the Brussels technocrats and that they had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take back control. 

According to Coles, the Brexiteers were swindled because in reality, the outcome of “neo-liberal” polices will mean more globalisation, more competition and immigration; exactly what the Brexiteers were voting against.

I voted Remain and this book reminded me that of a lesson learnt early in my career in the City. My first job was working for a commodity firm that produced lead, among other metals. There was growing evidence that lead in petrol was not good for children; the firm contributed to its trade association and supported its endeavours to counter any anti-lead publicity; it even commissioned research that would show otherwise. Eventually science did win, but it was no thanks to that or other businesses at that time.

In am glad I am fortunate enough to run a business where I can control the ethics and culture; an easy conscience makes for an easier life.  

Published by Clairview Books 

Anna Sofat is a founder of Addidi Wealth