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Brexit: The price of dishonesty

THE CHALLENGES OF EUROPE: The Brexit chaos seems to culminate in the British leaving the EU – now that the election of Boris Johnson is over. Brexit is the price the British have to pay for not having had an honest discussion about immigration, multiculturalism and the British Empire. But are Britain's problems unique?


There are three moments that are relevant to the situation in the UK – and for Proposed referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Union – which I think is less relevant elsewhere in Europe. If there is a common denominator here, though, it's dishonesty – a false statement about who the British are, who we can be, and what dishonesty costs us.

First: immigration

Britain has always had immigration, but there was a significant increase in the number of immigrants immediately after World War II. Some came from former British colonies – in the Caribbean, Australia, Southern Africa and Asia – while there were initially several immigrants from other European countries such as Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Poland and the Baltic.

Throughout the post-war period, the political establishment avoided getting involved in the immigration issue. Even when more than half of all dark-skinned people in the UK were actually born in the UK, they were still perceived. . .

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Gary Younge is one of The Guardian's editors.

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