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Opinion

Opinion: It's the people who pay for Brexit deception

A narrow majority in Britain voted to quit the European Union. But the "Leave" campaign shockingly lied to its supporters. And the poorer ones will end up suffering the consequences, DW's Barbara Wesel writes.

Only days after the Brexit shock, a new word has been invented in Great Britain: "Regrexit" - the growing regret about leaving the European Union. The worst part of the referendum is the fact that many of those who ticked the "Leave" box on their ballots will not get what they wanted out of it.

If you ask voters in disadvantaged parts of England why they are against Europe, they usually say something like "We don't want to be told what to do" or "We want more for ourselves." They want better schools, affordable housing, better jobs and higher wages. They were talked into believing that the European Union's rule over their country was to blame for their hardship, and so they did not seek fault in their own government. It was a masterpiece of manipulation.

Barbara Wesel Kommentarbild App *PROVISORISCH*

DW's Barbara Wesel

It is tragic that former London Mayor Boris Johnson and his tacit partners from the UK Independence Party made promises that they will

not be able to keep.

They probably never intended to keep their promises; they have no interest in the face of the socially excluded people whom they convinced to vote "Leave." The electorate only fed their desire for power.

Paying the piper

Low-income workers who have not seen a raise in wages for years and have little job security helped make the Brexit happen, but they will end up paying the prices for their decision. The pound is dropping, Britain's credit rating has been downgraded, and corporations are considering leaving the country. No one in the British government will replace the EU subsidies for Welsh farmers whose livelihoods depend on the money, just as steelworkers in Port Talbot will never find proper jobs again and their opportunities will further decline after Brexit.

The campaign Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and like-minded Leavers waged was a propaganda assault of incomparable perfidiousness. They lied, deceived the British people, spread false facts, made Nazi comparisons and talked people into believing that the sun would shine on their land of milk and honey. And the people believed it because they wanted to believe it. They have been seduced by a modern Pied Piper who won the referendum on the basis of a racist campaign.

The tragedy can be ascribed to a lack of knowledge and angry resistance to the nation's elite. Many Britons who believe that the European Union is the source of their woes do not understand the consequences of their decision. Google reported that, after polling stations had closed, searches on "What is the EU?" increased significantly. This referendum was not an exercise in democracy: It demonstrated the art of manipulation. The most succinct reaction came from former Monty Python comedian Eric Idle, who simply tweeted, "UK. Foot. Shot." There is nothing more to be said.

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