I would encourage you to read this excellent article by Martin Fletcher that explores the long history of Brussels Bashing through the national British Media http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/22/opinion/who-is-to-blame-for-brexits-appeal-british-newspapers.html
Today after hearing the news, I was speaking with an American living in Europe who hinted towards long giving up on seeing US paving the kind of future he would want to continue living within. With an Austrian with a British husband who had spent the morning looking into paper work for her husband and sighed at the impossibility of her worst fears coming true. A second generation Iranian, having lived in Germany for all her life, texted concerned messages and we exchanged how similar the circumstances looked to the Weimar Republic. Someone trying to be funny texted 'Auslander' which was the first text I open my eyes to. I was sharply reminded at how true the book "Er ist Weider Da" (Look who's Back) is. An American colleague tried to cheer me up with an invite to a wine tasting session, bringing me closer together with others who could feel my pain with their own country suffering terrible divides through the country, spitting with hate and frustration. I know this well.
Growing up in the North of England, in what I thought was a beautiful part of the world, they call it god`s country. On the edge of a National Park we had fields and rolling hills to play around and cycle in, which in many ways why I feel so at home in Bayern, except here the 'hills' are a little higher. I enjoyed summers full of cycle trips and adventures in nature that seem to last forever, with hope and excitement. My family often traveled abroad through Europe, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, I always felt a part of a larger whole and wanted to live one day on the continent.
Somewhere around 1994 I started to feel with increasing intensity the huge rift that was beginning to divide Britain. With school trips down to London, I saw there were more opportunities in the capital, but a lack of space and I always spent all my pocket money within a day.
Back in the north of England, at school it wasn`t pretty. I would get spat at and called "white bitch" by people whose parents had brought them from Pakistan in the hope of a better life, but instead were shoved into cramped spaces in ghettos segregated from everyone except their minority.
Confused, there were my best friends some white, middle class who enjoyed the lazy country life, but who felt the pull of London as the only place to be if you wanted to get anywhere in your life or career and my friends from second generations of different lands who found ease integrating themselves with peers through education and culture. Yet there was a growing hatred in a minority that was directed towards me and my peers who had been forced to migrate and had not had the same opportunities to integrate and so suffered due to living in ghettos and lack of integration. Looking around for someone to blame, myself, my peers and my parents who were trying to teach, got were victims of racial hatred. Confused, I just wanted to escape.
At University and more mature, I decided I wanted to understand where this hate was coming from, on both sides between my neighbours who had been forced to migrate from Pakistan and the entrenched middle classes that I grew up within. I studied, fervently integration and segregation within France--by choosing a country that I was not entirely personally connected with, but still familiar, this way I could be more objective. I looked for answers in education, music, art and creative technology to find any hint of diversity and unity. I found it there and built my thesis around the premise that cultural integration through education, can preclude economic integration. That by revealing how mixing French and Arabic influences with other diverse components in education, art, dance, technology and music can we can reveal how we are richer as a society. When we bring together these diverse influences we can understand and celebrate them. I deeply continue to believe this to this day.
Having seen how it changed young people by putting my thesis into action with projects through my charity, I saw teenagers and children who were second generation Serbian, Croatian, Vietnamese, Russian and Israeli as well as refugees (before the crisis) from Afghanistan, Ghana and Nigeria, trying to find their way in Europe. Together we understood each other by creating dance, music, art with technology. I was moved to tears as they found their way and in turn helped others already living in Europe to understand them further. Now grown and at University, I occasionally bump into them on the street when I visit Austria and they tell me about an Education prize they have won for excellence or a scholarship from the government. I´ve watched them become a part of Europe and others have begun to understand not only why they had to leave but the richness they brought with them that we can now all share together. I know, that by accepting and celebrating each other`s differences and finding our place in Europe, which is unity in diversity this has given us more of a life filled with hope and promise. I want the next generation to have this chance as well, but I am fearful, more than I have been before that if we don`t act now these peaceful and heartwarming stories will be ever more difficult to find.
When I look at where most of the leave votes were cast, across England, there are those counties that perhaps have felt that the centralisation of power in London have left them behind both economically and socially. This was then seen as a political opportunity by the leave campaign to whip up people`s frustration about their situation that was actually created by the very people (and their predecessors) who claim to be their Brexit saviour. The move from local governments to a more centralised London government and small elite in the city has gradually happened with stealth. The support of right wing Tory policies shifting power from the local authorities to ever increasing centralisation was a long drawn out process that has worked.
Having seen over the years how in Yorkshire anger and resentment at this increasing separation of London to the rest of the country gradually happened through and was reflected in different areas such as the media--"now let's turn to the news where you are"--to jobs, to children of the first baby boomers leaving their beloved parents heading to the mass migration to London; or abroad. Perhaps, this anger and frustration was looking for a scapegoat. Along came the "immigration issue" and the "right to leave" and this combination became a powerful cocktail to drug the disenfranchised masses into thinking "they" are to blame and to "leave" is the answer. When really the very people that were whipping up this campaign were the very people that took away people's rights, jobs and protection by smashing the unions and marching them to us to our own slow death.
When there is discontent, people look around for people to blame, but what was missed was the very people that led us into this mess where the people who were running around campaigning for little Britain.
Leaving the EU means fewer rights as there is less protection for workers, for families, for health and safety. Those beautiful blue flag beaches along the north east coast, you can wave goodbye as the litter piles up, due to standards lowering after deregulation and lack of funds to continue to clean them. Forget about those trips to Mallorca or South of France without struggle and complications. Children will grow up with increasing isolation as international scholarships and school exchanges become a fading echo in the distance. The quality of education has become increasingly difficult to maintain and so many people in Britain except for a small elite are getting the basic education they need to understand their place in society and in Europe. How many people really understood what the EU is before they decided to leave?
Let´s now take a look at history, how did this begin? Where did the real issues start in education that lead us to this point. The twin aims of Margaret Thatcher's education policies in the 1980's were to convert the nation's schools system from a public service into a market and to transfer power from local authorities to central government.
With the education being dictated by a central government there can be more control over the curriculum and less diversity of different perspectives and alternative histories. So when the leave campaign stepped in, it was an easy task, a lot of the ground work had already been done by stealth, I can imagine how many of the campaigners could be laughing at how easy it all was to march people to what they thought was some kind of solution--echos of the final solution perhaps.
There is a still a way to turn this around. To look clearly at history and to understand that using immigration and Brussels as a scapegoat to most of the issues that are home grown and will continue to get worse, if we see the blame to be "out there" as oppose to growing stronger clearly within the UK borders for decades and these need to be addressed with those that made the policies before you won`t have a choice anymore because there will be not much left to choose from. Jo Cox's death was just one of the casualities of scapegoat thinking.
For a broad history please look at: The Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawn, it will give you more of a context of where we are and how we got here: "The world of the third millennium will therefore almost certainly continue to be one of violent politics and violent political changes. The only thing uncertain about them is where they will lead,"
If you want a basic history and overview of British politics see here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/launch_tl_politics_pm.shtml
I would also encourage you to read The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners, Seumas Milne:as well as reading Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorline: This may be a start, it is certainly not the end.