Posts Tagged ‘brexit news’

The parochial altruist: why voters are sceptical about immigration

Why are many – even unprejudiced – people sceptical about immigration? Alexander Kustov (Princeton University) shows this scepticism is largely because they think freer immigration will damage their own country. Despite their ethnic biases and other concerns, most voters can support increased immigration if they see that these policies benefit their compatriots in a clear and straightforward way.

Why do unprejudiced voters oppose immigration, and when would they support it?

While there have always been diverging opinions over who gets to live and thrive in Britain, immigration has become especially salient in the last decade. Public scepticism of large-scale immigration from both EU and non-EU countries has been further linked to the relative success of the Leave vote in the Brexit referendum. Regardless of the eventual Brexit outcome, Britain will have to decide how to adjust its immigration policy to new economic realities. Nonetheless, it is hard to know which policies are more politically feasible without conclusive evidence on the underlying voter preferences.

Manchester, 2014. Photo: Jonathan Potts via a CC BY NC 2.0 licence

The general intention of immigration restrictions is to protect and preserve the wellbeing of a nation’s citizens and institutions. Unfortunately, however, not only do these restrictions often come at a price to the national economy, but they also directly impose substantial costs on global productivity and harm potential migrants. Of course, British voters may disagree over how their government should weigh the costs of such policies on non-voters, but given the enormous opportunities at stake, there can be a number of less restrictive policies that benefit both migrants and citizens.

While public opposition to immigration is well-documented, the sheer extent to which most voters in Britain (and in other countries) dislike any immigration increase is often overlooked. In fact, according to my representative survey, only 20% of educated and progressive British voters (supposedly the most pro-immigration group) would like to see immigration increased (see Figure 1). Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether people dislike the idea of more immigration per se or if this opposition is because of the perceived negative impacts of such policies.

Figure 1: Immigration attitudes across various groups in the UK

The widespread opposition to increasing immigration among even educated and racially egalitarian voters is hard to explain using existing theories that attribute these sentiments to ignorance and prejudice. The extent to which people dislike immigration is especially puzzling given that political preferences are often motivated by genuine altruistic concerns rather than just self-interest. To understand why migration is so unpopular, I argue that it is important to move beyond the stereotypes of “prejudiced” or “self-interested” voters and consider the unlikely role of altruism (motivation to help others at a personal cost) as a driver of anti-immigration attitudes.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that altruism, if it exists at all, should drive people to resist harsh restrictions that harm the opportunities of potential migrants, many of whom are the most impoverished people in the world. Nonetheless, in a world of democratic nation-states, altruists may also feel especially compassionate toward fellow citizens and may resist immigration due to the potential harm they believe it can do to their country. My research tests this hypothesis and reveals that many voters are in fact (national) parochial altruists: they are often willing to incur a personal cost to benefit others, but they prioritise helping their fellow citizens. As a result, independent of their other concerns, voters tend to favour harsh restrictions on immigration when they perceive such restrictions as necessary to secure the well-being of their compatriots.

To reach these conclusions, I first had to develop a robust measure of altruistic preferences. Of course, merely relying on voters’ self-reported desires to help others may not be convincing due to social desirability bias. To deal with this, my survey introduces a variant of a “dictator game” in which respondents participated in a real lottery for a £100 prize and were asked to decide if they would like to keep the prize for themselves or donate part or all of it to a charity of their choice. The suggested charities included three national-oriented charities, three comparable global-oriented charities, and an open-ended response option. Overall, while I find that 57% of respondents (“egoists”) decided to keep all the money, 30% (“parochial altruists”) made a substantial contribution to national-oriented charities and 13% (“universal altruists”) to global-oriented charities. Approximately the same amount of donations was present across groups based on age, gender, income, education, ideology, religiosity, and racial bias.

Overall, my analysis strikingly shows that parochial altruists are as much opposed to immigration as egoists (and much more opposed than universal altruists). In other words, contrary to conventional wisdom, genuine altruism does not translate into pro-immigration attitudes for most people. Using experimental evidence where I manipulate the perceived economic effects of alternative immigration scenarios, I further confirm that most voters support policies based on their national impact (independent of how these policies affect them personally). Nonetheless, voters are evidently divided regarding the proper role of national versus global concerns in political decision-making.

The 2016 Brexit referendum provides a good illustration of how this dynamic plays out in electoral politics. As might be expected, my results show that universal altruists are significantly more likely to have voted Remain compared to other groups. Furthermore, my subsequent experimental research indicates that those who voted Remain are much more sensitive to the global consequences of immigration than those who voted Leave. Nonetheless, it is also true that Remain voters are more responsive to economic impacts in general, including those related to national and personal wealth. Leave voters, in contrast, are much more averse to immigration per se and willing to incur a greater cost to stop its increase. In sum, while this confirms previous studies emphasising the significance of ethnic concerns, my evidence still suggests both selfish and altruistic economic incentives play a major role in Brexit voting and immigration preferences.

Since immigration can be as much an opportunity as a threat, however, it is possible that widespread parochial altruism can actually increase support for immigration under alternative policy conditions. While only a small percentage (12%) of respondents are willing to relax existing restrictions in principle, most (58%) say that they are willing to do it at least for those immigrants who would contribute to the national economy. In line with these results, I also find that 58% of voters would support a new policy significantly increasing immigration if it is explicitly designed to benefit average British citizens through greater selection and taxation of immigrants. Importantly, these nationally beneficial policies also yield a relatively greater support from both universal and parochial altruists (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Immigration Support by National Impact and Parochial Altruism

But why would voters ever believe that increasing immigration is in their national interest? After all, various attempts to challenge people’s anti-immigration attitudes by providing facts have generally not been successful. The overlooked alternative, however, is to change the policy environment itself. My results demonstrate that voters are willing to compromise their anti-immigration sentiments and support alternative pro-immigration policies when they are confident in their favorable national economic consequences. At the same time, this suggests that simply reducing immigration without addressing their underlying parochial and altruistic concerns may not necessarily appease most who currently oppose immigration or voted Leave.

Both Brexit and immigration debates have often been described as exemplifying the political divide between “nationalists” and “cosmopolitans.” As my account makes clear, however, altruism is exactly what gives motivational power to these conflicting identities. Since most people today say they love their country and care about the world, it may be more instructive to ask whether (and to what extent) voters are actually willing to sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of national or human interest. Consequently, the respective individual differences in (parochial) altruism can provide the psychological basis for an increasingly important political cleavage on globalisation in the UK and other democracies.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Alexander Kustov is a doctoral candidate in Princeton University’s Department of Politics and the joint degree program in Social Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His research focuses on voter responses to diversity and migration in high-income democracies.

What MBA students want

Giulia Gatti and Hagen Rockmann, students in the MBA programme at the University of St Gallen, talk about honing their business skills and their professional plans. 

Multinationals must step up game to attract top business students

Millennials at leading Swiss business schools say it will take more than a good salary to recruit and retain them. They want jobs with purpose, flexibility, and above all, the opportunity for impact. There has been a lot of talk about how millennials (people born between 1983 and 1994) and Gen Zs (born between 1995 and 1999) want more than money and a 9 to 5 job. Various surveys and media reports suggest that, globally and in Switzerland, younger generations are searching for jobs with meaning and rejecting big multinationals as symbols of the rigid, profit-driven corporate structures they are trying to escape. But, the picture is more nuanced if you talk to millennial-age students at top business schools in Switzerland – a group that is highly sought-after by large multinationals. They say the era of multinationals isn't over but they are expecting more from them. The search for purpose and authenticity Dominique Gobat, a career services manager at the University St ...

Learning skills that make you good at business

Actors help students learn empathy, passion and positive body language in the MBA programme at the University of St Gallen. (Julie Hunt/ 



The following letters were sent to INDEPENDENCE Daily over the weekend:


Daniel Hannan (Sunday Telegraph 16-12-18) suggests that a new referendum would likely offer a choice between i) Mrs May’s deal and ii) a return to the status quo of EU membership. He suggests that many leavers would boycott the poll, resulting in a low turnout and a win for remain.

But that risk could be avoided if a minimum turnout threshold of 65% is applied. That would be very fair, since the 2016 turnout was 72% when 408 (62.8%) constituencies voted to leave the EU.

However, I do question Mr Hannan’s rationale because polls seem to show that the majority want either Mrs May’s half-baked option or no deal. Between them, their total far outweighs those who want to remain.

The point to remember is that she cannot bind the hands of future governments. So rather than abstain, many if not most of the 17.4m who voted to leave the EU, would likely hold their noses and vote for the half-baked option, in the hope that a future PM (with more backbone than backstop) will denounce her EU treaty and move on to WTO rules.

So even in Mr Hannan’s scenario, there would be no reason to abstain, because surely no leave voter would want remainers (such as Blair & Soros) to have their way.

In the unlikely event that Hannan’s fears do prove correct, then in a few years (after being dragged into the Eurozone, Schengen, and an E.U. Army) many remainers would likely be too embarrassed to admit ever having voted for such an outcome.

Respectfully, Roger Arthur

~~~   *** ~~~



When Theresa May became Prime Minister, Paul Nuttall, then Leader of UKIP, astutely posed a question – “she can talk the talk but can she walk the walk?”. Since then more has come to light concerning her time as Home Secretary: not only did she fail to implement Party policy of limiting net immigration to the tens of thousands, but the Windrush scandal brought to light the deportation of those whom we were happy to have in the UK. Say one thing, do the opposite.

According to one report I read, Mark Carney’s policy is that there should be lots of unskilled immigrants into the UK as he sees that as a way of achieving rising GDP: GDP per capita is not a consideration. So is May dancing to the Carney tune?

Reading again the ECJ ruling on revoking Article 50 I was struck by one passage: “The court considers that it would be inconsistent with the EU treaties’ purpose of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe…” We have known for a long time that the EU direction of travel is towards ever closer union but it is good to see all the ECJ judges reinforce that understanding. Further, their ruling adds the explanation that it is the purpose of all the EU’s treaties to bring it about. So, on my reading of what they have said, the Withdrawal Agreement, being a treaty, will bring the UK closer to the EU – the exact opposite of leaving. No wonder the EU elitists were so happy when Theresa-the-Appeaser agreed to it! Say one thing, do the opposite.

But why?

When events turn out contrary to the way predicted by the person in charge and expected by those of us affected, there arises the speculation of conspiracy or incompetence. Perhaps, in this case, it is a combination of the two; a conspiracy to put in place someone who would undertake the task in the knowledge that they could be relied upon to make a hash of it until there was only time for the wrong outcome. Say one thing and do the opposite.

A conspiracy? Patrick O’Flynn has written on Brexit Central that he is convinced that “there is now a private understanding between leading figures in the UK political and civil service establishment on the one hand and the Brussels elite on the other that a preferred pathway to the UK rejoining is now in place”.

Or how about May under the coercive control of the EU? If you think this is far-fetched then I strongly encourage you to read the article by David Blake, Professor at Cass Business School, published in Briefing for Brexit. He even explains that it was Theresa May who proposed “the Northern Ireland backstop, which immediately became the Achilles Heel that it was intended to be”.

Whichever way you slice it, we certainly have the answer to the question posed by Paul. May can certainly talk the talk, but as for walking the BREXIT-Walk her destination is the opposite to that for implement the Referendum result; the circuitous route has been deliberately designed to deceive, if not by her then by those pulling her strings.

Respectfully, Alan Wheatley


~~~   *** ~~~


Sir –

For publication in INDEPENDENCE Daily:

Orion the Hunter


Awake early on a crisp frosty morning,

See the stars still shining bright.

Constellations in their endless journeying

Ancient watchers of the night.

Orion the Hunter is watching us.


Three silver studs in line upon his belt,

Arms aloft in action pose

In time, every empire will melt

Vanity, vanity, so it goes.

Orion the Hunter is watching us.


Search the night sky and show us where

Are twelve stars in a circle?

Un-natural form, it is not there

Worshiping it is futile.

Orion the Hunter is watching us.


Serpents have infested our land,

And the lands of our friends.

Their deceits got out of hand

Seeming to never end.

Orion the Hunter is watching us.


The thirteenth place in the Zodiac sign

Is Ophiuchus the serpent carrier.

Before the setting of the sun

As the winter solstice draws near.

Orion the Hunter is watching us.


Circle of stars like a crown of thorns,

We cannot be the unwilling martyrs

To the manic globalist cause.

Out of our hair, mad traitors!

Orion the Hunter is watching us.


We were the hunted, the intended prey

Of the anti-democratic elitists.

The tables are turning to their dismay.

Now we hunt, if you are not a defeatist!

Orion the Hunter is watching us.

Hugo Jenks

The post LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – TUESDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2018 appeared first on Independence Daily.

Open Letter to Mrs Theresa May

Open Letter to Ms Theresa May

Dear Mrs May,

There is a fundamental flaw in your approach to the Brexit negotiations. You are allowing the EU to dictate the terms of the debate and the wider agenda. This is permitting the EU to exercise power and control over our country.

I wish to draw your attention to this Oath contained in the 1689 Bill of Rights:

“I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm.”

Please note the use of the words, “or” and “any”.

The EU is arguably a “foreign” state since it has assumed all of the powers of one, including having its own Parliament, its own flag, its own anthem, and many other things.

The officials who run the various institutions that the EU is comprised of are certainly “foreign” persons.

The UK was taken into what was then informally known as the “Common Market” on January 1st 1973. No referendum was held prior to this happening. The 1975 referendum, often discussed in the political debate about our EU membership, was a post-accession referendum.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court in what is informally known as “the Gina Miller Case” decided that you as Prime Minister could not use the Royal Prerogative in order to make a notification to the EU of our intention to leave. Using the same reasoning, it therefore follows that none of your predecessors should have been allowed to use the Royal Prerogative to sign the various treaties which gave the EU the powers it has. Yet this is what happened. So, therefore, it seems that these treaties have been signed unlawfully. And if this is the case then Article 50 has no basis in law and should be disregarded.

We clearly have a situation where Parliament no longer reigns supreme in this land. EU law is being permitted to override our own. And it is deeply disturbing that neither you nor most of the other members of Parliament seem to have a problem with this. It seems to me that allowing this situation to persist means that Parliament is going against our constitution.

Both Parliament and the Government should be asserting the UK’s position as a sovereign nation. The failure to do this has meant that the EU officials have had no incentive to negotiate properly. What you should have done is ensured that the European Communities Act 1972, the legislation which took us into the EU, was repealed at the start of the process. Instead of doing this, Parliament opted to repeal the European Communities Act at the anticipated end of the process. And I for one do not feel assured that the Withdrawal Act as it’s informally known will not either be amended or repealed. In other words, I am concerned that the door is potentially being left open for the repeal of the European Communities Act, due to take effect on 29th March 2019, to be delayed or even cancelled altogether. This would be wholly unacceptable to me and to the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU back in 2016.

What should have been in your mind is a free trade agreement with the EU that doesn’t include free movement of people. Vietnam and Mexico, to name just two countries, have such an agreement. But under no circumstances should you have been seeking a deal at any cost. If the EU officials decided to put blocks in the way such as imposing an exit fee or charges for unfettered access to the Single Market, you should have, from the outset, left them in no doubt that you would be prepared to walk away and revert to trading on WTO terms.

Instead of doing what I have suggested, what you have attained is an agreement that means the UK will leave in name only. The UK will act as a rule taker and, as Martin Howe QC pointed out in a recent article for The Spectator, the list of laws that we would be complying with runs to more than 60 pages. And that’s just the titles. We would have no say whatsoever where any of these laws are concerned. The Withdrawal Agreement in its current form also potentially deprives the Government of meeting a key manifesto commitment, namely leaving the Customs Union.

If Parliament was to vote in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement, it would be doing two things. One, it would be binding future Parliaments, which goes against the spirit of our constitution. And two, it would be allowing the EU to carry on exercising power and control over our country, which is also, in my view, unconstitutional.

We also have the situation whereby many members of Parliament represent constituencies where the majority of the voting public supported leaving the EU, and yet these members are failing to serve their constituents. Some of them are openly trying to thwart the democratic will of the people. It seems to me that these members of Parliament have been elected on a false prospectus. They exist on both sides of the House. I appreciate that what goes on in respect of the Official Opposition is not something you can control, but you could show some leadership and unite the people on your side of the House in favour of Brexit. You have failed to do this. Your party is divided, as is the Opposition, and the country is hearing different things from different people. This is sowing confusion in the minds of many, and should not be happening.

You have done well to survive the recent confidence vote. But the situation is such that, in my view, you no longer command the respect and support of the country as a whole. You have allowed the EU to carry on exercising control over our country and this is totally unacceptable and unnecessary, as well as being potentially unlawful. I have no confidence in you to change course and do what is right for the country. You have always been a Remainer. You have made speeches in the past, calling for the UK to stay in the European Union and backed the Remain side in the referendum campaign. Brexit is clearly not something you feel passionate about. I, therefore, call you on to resign as Prime Minister and make way for someone who believes in Brexit to replace you.

Thanks for reading.

Yours sincerely,

Warren Blinston

The post Open Letter to Mrs Theresa May appeared first on Independence Daily.

A Practical and Legal Solution to the Backstop Problem

A Practical and Legal Solution to the Backstop Problem

A Legal Sleight of Hand

The problem of the Backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement can be solved by creating legal fictions. This can be done until the UK formally applies to leave the EEA (European Economic Area) and signs up to the EU’s/Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement (WA).  The European Union (EU) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have form with legal fictions to facilitate the EU’s political agenda and to regularise de facto situations; it is different in function from UK Courts. The recent Article 50 Judgment from the ECJ also creates some useful precedents. Legal fictions would allow continuing membership of the EEA on more advantageous terms and permit largely frictionless trade, as at present. These terms could, for example, include unilaterally controlling freedom of movement, and enabling the UK to be excluded from legislation following the EU’s politically motivated agenda, an obvious objective of the Referendum vote to leave.

The Backstop creates a border between inside and outside the Single Market

In her Lancaster House speech 17th January 2017, Mrs May committed this country to leaving the Single Market. This action made a Backstop inevitable in order for the EU to protect the Single Market (and wider EEA). In effect the Backstop creates an essential border between the Single Market and those Third countries outside; in this case in the Irish Sea between parts of the UK. The border effectively prevents non-conforming products entering the Single Market (by the backdoor) and helps protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants.

The Transition Period Creates a Legal Fiction to avoid a Backstop

Although the UK is supposed to be leaving the EU on 29th March 2019, the EU is permitting us to remain within the Single Market, hence avoiding the need for an external border with mainland Britain. For this arrangement the EU is insisting on oversight by the ECJ, continuing to follow all EU laws, permit freedom of movement and remain subject to the Common Fisheries Policy. Yet supposedly only Member States of the EU or countries belonging to EFTA (the European Free Trade Association) can participate as members of the EEA.

If the UK does not formally leave the EEA in accordance with Article 127 of the EEA Agreement it obviously still remains a member. However, since the UK could have already left the EU and not have joined EFTA, it may be prevented from fulfilling some obligations of the EEA Agreement.  Yet, as already noted, this didn’t seem to be much of a concern during the Transition Period – workarounds (including legal fictions) were found by the EU for a price.

The ECJ Judgment on Article 50 facilitates helpful Legal Fictions

The ECJ in reaching its Judgment emphasised the paramount role of national sovereignty. It concluded that a Member State could, within its ‘rights’ to national sovereignty, revoke its application to leave the EU before departure occurred.  This somewhat sets a precedent when it comes to taking actions connected to national sovereignty for a political purpose or to avoid EU actions, policies, treaty obligations or EU laws which have clear political objectives.  It would imply that the political objectives of the Referendum cannot be thwarted by the EU.  Staying actively within the EEA under different circumstances would seem then to be feasible.  However, there are legalistic and administrative gaps that would need to be filled, and the EEA does not cover everything. The point being that, in order to comply with the ECJ Judgment if pushed by a competent UK team, the EU would be required to be more flexible (or inventive) than it has been to date.

Exclusion from the Political Objectives to the Single Market

When reading EU legislation relating to the Single Market, the political agenda can be visible.  Also by tracing back policies to their origins, it can be seen that their superior objectives are political. Thus freedom of movement of persons was intended as part of creating a common citizenry of a European Superstate rather than for any (questionable) economic benefit.  Since the Referendum result was to leave the political control of the EU, it would be an automatic requirement to seek to be excluded from the political objectives of the EU incorporated into the laws of the Single Market. This can already be facilitated to some extent within the EEA Agreement. The EEA Agreement Article 112 (the Safeguard Measures) does permit unilaterally controlling it by members who are outside the EU, (the EFTA countries).  Following the ECJ Article 50 Judgement, it should be possible to extend this principle further as and when required, if necessary by creating legal fictions.

A Court for Fair Dealing and to avoid the EU’s Political Agenda

Jurisdiction by the ECJ and oversight by the EU in the UK are unwanted, yet the EU would want some acceptable alternative. The Withdrawal Agreement seems to suggest arbitration may be an acceptable compromise. Other possibilities include using the UK Courts or EFTA Court, even if the UK is not actually a member of EFTA.

A court for fair dealing is essential to ensure that the EEA acquis or body of law (derived from higher Global Bodies and about 27% of the EU acquis), is kept within reasonable limits. The Withdrawal Agreement clearly shows that the EU will if left unchecked try to extend its control following its political agenda. In case of dispute or until new habits are acquired this needs to be prevented.

Always a Better Way

Unsurprisingly better alternatives or solutions to complex problems are never the first thoughts; it takes time. Mrs May made a reckless decision to leave the Single Market and wider EEA and has been trying ever since to find a solution to conflicting objectives.  It can’t be done and instead creates an unworkable nightmare and Brexit in Name Only. Yet, if the will is present, there is a win-win solution.

The post A Practical and Legal Solution to the Backstop Problem appeared first on Independence Daily.

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