Many commentators were shocked by the Brexit vote and branded British voters who wanted to leave the EU xenophobic and/or stupid. Having spent over a decade reporting from some of the UK’s hotspots for migration from Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa, and having investigated supply chains in Southern and Eastern Europe, Africa and South East Asia, Felicity Lawrence was writing before the referendum about the more complex motivations of local populations turning against globalisation and the institutions that promote it.
A Guardian special correspondent and author of the bestselling books about the global food business, Not on the Label and Eat Your Heart Out , she has tracked the casualisation of work globally and followed some of the transnational crime that now runs a significant part of labour supply to the mainstream economy in developed countries. The response of many voters has been to turn to the right, but it is precisely the hard right with its ideological obsession with shrinking the state and curtailing labour rights that has created a vacuum in which criminal activity and illegal employment has flourished. Recent articles include “ The Gangsters on our Doorstep “ and “ Don’t keep migrant workers out, strengthen workers rights ”