Michael Rustin at Eurozine:
Globalization, promoted by establishments of the centre-left and -right as a necessity that must be embraced, and from which it was alleged new opportunities could be created, has been found to have severe costs. There has been a polarization of response to this situation. Those whose positions in the labour market have been undermined by de-industrialization (in fact, by the transfer of capital to more competitive, lower-wage locations) have turned against the system; while those whose level of education and skills have enabled them to find niches in buoyant sections of the economy have remained at least tolerant of it. These differences coincide to a degree with age, with tolerance of multicultural populations and commingling, and with a more favourable attitude to the cosmopolitanism associated with the European Union. Voting in the UK referendum seems to have been roughly proportional to educational levels – the higher the average level of education in a region, the higher the support for the UK remaining an EU member state, with university graduates being the most likely to vote Remain.
Those disillusioned by this painful experience have turned not to the Left but to the Right for the expression of their discontents. Thus the Single European Market and its rules requiring the free movement both of capital and labour has been rejected by the British electorate – this is what the vote to leave the EU means. Comparable nationalist movements of the Right are in the ascendancy in many countries of Europe. What has happened is that the protests against globalization, capital and free markets by the disadvantaged have been captured by the Right, in the absence of effective resistance from the Left.