Ferguson: Brexit a response to “EU misrule”

British historian and author Niall Ferguson has said that he has had a change of heart over Europe. While Ferguson had campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, he now considers that Britain’s vote to leave was justified.

Ferguson told the Milken Institute Global conference that EU leaders’ poor leadership over the last decade had justified Britain’s decision to leave:

“The European elite’s performance over the last decade entirely justified the revolt” [against the EU].

According to Ferguson, the vote to leave was a reaction to the following:

1) The “absolute disaster” of monetary union for southern Europe

2) The failure of European Union security policy

3) The EU’s mishandling of the migrant crisis

4) The EU’s failure to properly combat the spread of radical Islam


Ferguson goes on to mention a question Brexiteers had asked him during the referendum campaign to which he could give no satisfactory answer:

“Hey, tell me about that one million people who have come from the mainly Muslim world into Germany. If they’re given German passports, can they come here?”

The answer was yes:

The answer was yes; there was no other answer you could credibly give. People in my experience were voting not so much about immigration to date; they were voting about what they anticipated in the future. That was a perfectly rational concern because the EU lost control of its external border…

People are not arguing for no globalisation, they’re not arguing for no immigration; but they’re saying that it had got out of control.

Difficulties with integration

Ferguson also mentioned the difficulty Europe faces in attempting to integrate new arrivals from the MENA:

Look at how unsuccessful northern Europe was in admitting asylum seekers in the 1990s on a much smaller scale. The unemployment differential between the native-born and the foreign-born in northern Europe was enormous even before the latest wave of migration.

What says that we will be more successful in integrating the latest waves of immigration?

There were other arguments for leaving besides that

Ferguson is surely correct in his assertion that concerns over mass immigration and security in the face of Islamist terrorism helped lead to Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

However, he doesn’t address other arguments for leaving, which included repatriating powers to Westminster and signing global free trade deals. When judging whether or not Britain was justified in voting to leave the EU, it’s worth considering each of these questions. Apparently, however, Ferguson believes poor governance by the EU offers enough reason to leave by itself.

A strong stance from someone who had campaigned for Britain to remain.