OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — "Today, politics is no longer about left or right. It’s about globalisation," said Alexander Betts, Leopold Muller Professor in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Oxford University, on December 2 at VOICES, BoF's new annual gathering for big thinkers.
Professor Betts' talk unravelled the knock-on effects of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. "The most immediate consequences of Brexit have been social, he said. "Racist violence has been empowered to levels I’ve never seen in my lifetime. People feel confident abusing verbally on the streets. Across the board we’ve unleashed extremism."
Explaining the bigger picture, Betts said: “We’re undergoing a structural transformation in which politics is being redefined as a fault line for globalisation. Those who embrace globalisation and those who are being left behind by globalisation.
“When we look at these [Brexit] voting maps, there is an almost perfect correlation between the voting patterns of those who wanted to leave, and the hollowing out of labour-intensive manufacturing,” he added. “Those who wanted to stay live in areas where the dominant sectors are professional, financial, technological and innovative.”