In the aftermath of yesterday’s vote for Brexit, I had several conversations that surprised me. The first, with a Romanian who had recently arrived in the UK, who claimed that all the Indians and Pakistanis he knew had voted for Brexit. The second, with Pakistani friends, was that an overwhelming majority of their friends had voted for Brexit, even though they did not normally vote. The reasons given were economic: they expected lower taxes and lower competition from Eastern European migrants in low-wage jobs.
Slough, Luton and Dagenham, all areas with large South Asian populations voted leave, and Leicester, Newham and Harrow were very close to 50%. This may mirror a quixotic pattern that we saw in the last general election, where older Irish voters supported UKIP over Labour. Migrants, especially settled migrants in a precarious economic situation, can see other migrants as a threat, especially where they are not linked to them by ties of family or culture. Paul Collier argues that recent migrants are much more likely to lose out from further migration than other people.