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The suffering caused by austerity helped fuel Brexit – and will only get worse

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Unless austerity ends, the UK’s poorest people face lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. That was the finding on Wednesday from Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, who warned worse could be yet to come “for the most vulnerable, who face a major adverse impact” if Brexit proceeds.

Days earlier, down the line at BBC 5 Live, the Brexit party candidate Lucy Harris declared that the average leave voter wants Brexit “at any cost”. Pressed further by presenter Nicky Campbell, Harris admitted this could mean volunteering for “30 years” of economic downturn.

It’s as if we are watching two narratives of Brexit Britain play out simultaneously, an experience made all the more galling by the fact that one side has changed its script. While today’s European elections have seen the Brexit party embrace predicted economic shock as a romantic sacrifice for the greater good, the referendum campaign saw a land of milk and honey promised on the side of buses. Indeed, the infamous “project fear” slur was thrown at any remainer who dared to point out the risks of Brexit.

Such hypocrisy is only made worse by the fact that the key proponents of “Brexit at any cost” will be unlikely to be suffering any such cost themselves. Economic downturns, by definition, hit poor and disabled people hardest, while those with the........

© The Guardian