KARACHI: Xenophobia was one of the leading factors which drove the movement of Brexit, said Prof Dr Markus Daechsel on Wednesday.
The German scholar was invited to Pakistan by Goethe Institut and was present for a lecture at the Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE) on ‘Brexit Negotiations and Unity within the European Union’.
He said the migration card was played to attract people towards the idea of leaving Europe and people fell prey to it without realising how damaging it could have been for their own future.
“Some Tories are in favour of migration but it is for their own benefit. They want political leverage and cheap labour,” the scholar, who is a Reader in the History of South Asia at the Royal Holloway, University of London, said.
“Now, leaving the European Union is a major challenge for the United Kingdom. If they crash out of negotiations, UK airplanes will not be able to travel freely in European skies and they have to establish their own air traffic control authority in order to operate.
“The health sector will also suffer as the European Association of Nuclear Medicine provides British hospitals CT scanners,” he added.
Discussing the benefits the United States was looking to reap, Dr Daechsel said the North American country favoured the Brexit as it wanted to destabilise UK’s economy so that it could establish economic relations with the UK on its own terms.
US now wants to establish relations with Britain on own terms
“This way the US will also be able to establish a society of its own choice in Britain,” the PhD scholar said.
While talking about why Brexit occurred, he said: “There was some sense of deprivation, and people were questioning about national identity and sovereignty. Journalists believe that about one-third of the population did not want to stay with the EU. For me, the referendum was not based on serious demands but on concerns raised by certain parts of the country.
“People did not know what they were voting for and what its consequences will be. There was charged atmosphere and Joe Cox, who was a Labour Party MP and an immigration friendly person, was murdered in West Yorkshire. The right-wing old-fashioned agenda ultimately won the referendum.
“If you look at the map of the UK, you will find out that those areas of the country which were closely integrated and involved in international business did not vote in favour of Brexit.”
Throwing light on how European countries looked at Britain’s exit, he said German newspapers wrote the UK deserved it because it never worked for integration.
“According to a recent report, about 60,000 to 80,000 jobs will fly out of London. French President Emmanuel Macron has welcomed all those with open arms who leave London.
“The British empire, on which [once] the sun never set, is now going down. Their future is frightening if political parties fail to handle the situation wisely,” he added.
ASCE Director Dr Tasneem Sultana, in her welcome address, said: “Brexit was astonishing not only for the UK but for the entire world too.
“The meeting between Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese President Xi Jinping was aimed at saving UK’s economy in case it collapsed.
“Brexit challenged the status quo as no one was thinking it could ever happen. We can now expect anything following it.”
Huma Tassawar, Programme Officer at the Goethe Institut, told Dawn: “Dr Daechsel has lived in the UK for 23 years and is invited for debates all over the world as a historian. He has also authored a book titled The Politics of Self-Expression.
“My organisation will keep inviting different German scholars to Pakistan to promote cultural and literary activities in the country and for an exchange of knowledge.
“These scholars always appreciate the love and hospitality they experience in the country and know that the Pakistanis are a peace-loving nation.”
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2018