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27 June 2016

An English St. George's flag flew above a migrant camp in Calais, France, on Friday, after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Photo: Pascal Rossignol / Reuters.

A Lesson From ‘Brexit’: On Immigration, Feelings Trump Facts

United States — The economic fallout from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was swift and stark, writes Amanda Taub for The New York Times. The pound cratered to its lowest level in three decades. When the London Stock Exchange opened the next morning, its leading share index immediately fell by more than 8 percent, the largest single-day drop since the 2008 financial crisis.

This was pretty much what financial analysts had predicted. And it is clear from polling data and interviews with voters that those who voted for “Brexit” had been well warned about the economic risks. They just cared more about something else: immigration.

Most research has found that immigration has bolstered the British economy. But voters supporting the Leave campaign either were unpersuaded by the evidence, did not think it had benefited them or felt the downsides outweighed the upsides.

Brexit is not just a blow to the British economy, but also strikes at a core assumption behind the modern liberal order: that voters will act in their self-interest.

The progress of the last 50 years, particularly in Europe, has made it easy to buy into the idea that the forces of nationalism, xenophobia and prejudice are mere irrationalities, market distortions that will naturally fade away in the long arc of history.

Last week’s vote highlighted — not for the first time, but with unusual clarity — the hole in that theory. For many people, identity trumps economics. They will pay a high price (literally, in this case) to preserve a social order that makes them feel safe and powerful.

That dynamic is not limited to Britain, or to this referendum. It is playing out in democracies around the world, and immigration has become its focal point.

Read on

Oldham residents temporarily renamed the town’s Wales Street during the ongoing European soccer championship. Photo: Reuters / Phil Noble.

Starved of Resources, UK's Most Deprived Town Pins Hopes on Brexit

United Kingdom - The son of Pakistani immigrants, Sajaad Ahmed voted to leave the European Union because he sees only one way to reverse a decades-long dwindling of resources in Britain's most deprived town: curb immigration, writes Conor Humphries for Reuters.

Deteriorating public services, competition for jobs and a general economic malaise are the constant refrains of the 61 percent of voters in the northwest English town of Oldham who opted to leave the EU, many citing migration as the root cause.

Their long-simmering frustrations exploded onto the world stage on Friday when 52 percent of Britons voted to leave the EU, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, sending global markets into a tailspin and raising questions about the future of the European Union itself.

Read on

Migration in the News

  • Reuters reported that Italian coastguard and navy ships rescued over 3,300 migrants in 26 separate operations in the Mediterranean over the weekend.

  • Bayrischer Rundfunk and Deutschlandfunk reported on Lampedusa’s preparations for a renewed influx of migrants and refugees from North Africa.

  • Voice of America reported that according to a new UNICEF report, over 7,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived in Italy from North Africa this year – double the number of arrivals during the same period in 2015.

  • Thomson Reuters reported on the growing risk of human trafficking as Central American migrants trying to reach the US seek new clandestine routes to avoid detection.

  • Voice of America and AP reported the death by suffocation of 19 irregular Ethiopian migrants in a container truck on Zambia's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • Haberler reported that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on a visit to Thailand urged Myanmar migrants and refugees to return home.

  • Xinhua reported that the Djibouti coastguard last week rescued 141 Somali, Eritrean and Ethiopian irregular migrants from a boat in distress en route to Yemen.

Trending on the Internet

  • Reuters reported that Nepal has banned its nationals from working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria after 13 Nepali security guards were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in the Afghan capital.

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