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Truly Taking Back Control

When people are more able to shape their own futures, they are less likely to be convinced that others are to blame for their plight. To the extent that it weakens support for virulent nationalism, devolution of global governance to national and local communities may make the world a little more prosperous – and a lot safer.

CHICAGO – Britain is teetering toward Brexit. No one knows what will happen over the next few months. Yet around one-third of British voters support a “no-deal” departure from the European Union, which risks inflicting an economic disaster on the country.

Many of these “no-deal” Brexit supporters are older and modestly educated, and live in economically depressed semi-urban communities and small towns, which tend to be concentrated in northern England. Although they are anxious about the steady deterioration in their economic prospects, studies suggest that trade or even immigration are not their only concerns. Brexiteers also resent their loss of control over policy, first to a distant national capital full of well-educated global elites, and in recent years to an even more remote EU.

EU-mandated immigration rules are just the most obvious sign of their powerlessness. Brexit supporters voted to leave the EU in order to “take back control.” Unfortunately, Brexit, in whatever form it takes, may not give them what they want, fueling further resentment. Can anything be done to quell their anger?

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