The result of the UK referendum over membership of the EU can be argued to articulate key points regarding the nature of globalization, and the way in which it has seffected the lives of different demographics. To begin with, if one considers the areas of the country which voted most strongly in favour of leaving the EU, one can see significant inequality in terms of access to resources, employment and other “benefits associated with the European Union. For example, one New York Times journalist notes that in Sunderland, where a significant proportion of the population voted leave, there were several clear improvements brought about by EU membership, but that these had been out of reach of the majority of the population of the area (De Freytas-Tamura, 2016).
Alongside this, it can also be argued that the European Union’s reliance on austerity policies, something which is largely associated with the protection of credit for nation States within Europe and which has mandated the stripping back of welfare provision in almost all European countries amd once again led to a situation in which the increased movement of capital and labour has failed to improve the lives of the key demographic of the western working class (Elliot, 2016). As in the former case, it is areas most affected by austerity measures which have seen the most virulent rejection of globalization; something visible in the Brexit and also countries such as France, which has seen a rise in far right populism based around the issues of immigration.
Finally, it seems clear, therefore, that it is not possible to combine globalization and market integration with referendums that support popular sovereignty. As Jim Tankersley notes, it is not possible in the future for governments to allow populations to vote on such issues, while at the same time pursuing policies of economic integration. Rather, a new era of globalization would be one in which politicians no longer attempt to balance the appearance of sovereignty with a policy of expansive market integration.
- De Freytas-Tamura, Kakimo. (2016). Pro-‘Brexit’ City of Sunderland Glad to Poke Establishment in the Eye.’ New York Times. Web. 17Th July, 2016.
- Eliot, Larry. (2016). “Brexit is a rejection of globalisation.” Guardian. Web. 17Th July, 2016.
- Tankersley, Jim. (2016). “Britain just killed globalization as we know it.” The Washington Post. Web. 17Th July, 2016.