Friday, 3 February 2017

The Guardian: Leavers complain, but they’ve shared the benefits of cheap EU labour

Leavers complain, but they’ve shared the benefits of cheap EU labour


by John Harris


"Left-leaning people may read about such cases and respond with moralistic sighs. Why, they may wonder, are businesses reliant on all that agency labour? But try coming up with a model of consumerism that avoids huge seasonal fluctuations. As Brexit may yet prove, coming down hard on this part of the economy would lead to lots of businesses going under.

It may turn out that the EU’s key contribution to Britain’s economy and society over the past 15 years was not the high-flown stuff about European cooperation and internationalism, but the way that it provided a huge pool of workers who would do jobs most British people would balk at, and thereby sustained a fragile mess of stagnating wages, skyrocketing credit, cheap food and consumerism-as-culture.

Millions of leave voters have experienced the magical benefits of all that just as much as those who voted remain. And if the whole model starts to unravel, their howls of dismay will be just as loud. It would be a very British outcome: in the land of having your cake and eating it, proof that if you play fast and loose with the people who do the baking, the fun soon stops."

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