Oxfam says the UK is among the most unequal countries in world. (file photo)
The London-based world's leading charity, Oxfam, has declared the United Kingdom as one of the most unequal countries in the world, saying wealth inequality contributed to the Brexit vote.
According to a report published by Oxfam on Tuesday, the accumulated wealth of Britain’s richest one percent is more than 20 times the total of the poorest fifth in the country, meaning that one in five people live below the poverty line and struggle to pay their bills and provide food.
“The UK is one of the most unequal developed countries in the world. Three decades of high-level inequality have had a profound impact, leading many people to believe that they have little stake in society and to feel locked out of politics and economic opportunity,” Oxfam said.
“Whatever your views on Brexit, the referendum brought divisions within our country to a head, with many people expressing distrust and disconnection with political processes and voting for change in the hope that it would improve their economic position,” it added.
According to the head of the world's leading charity, Rachael Orr, “Inequality is a massive barrier to tackling poverty and has created an economy that clearly isn't working for everyone. The UK is one of the richest countries in the world, but it's a nation divided into the haves and have-nots.”
Orr called on British Prime Minister Theresa May to push the government for pursuing corporate reform and tackling cases of tax avoidance as a way to even up the economy.
“That means closing wage gaps, incentivising investment in companies' staff and making sure they pay their fair share of taxes,” she noted.
On a June 23 referendum, about 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU, while roughly 48 percent voted to stay in the union. More than 17.4 million Britons said the country should leave the bloc, as just over 16.14 million others favored remaining in the EU.
Those in favor of a British withdrawal from the EU argued that outside the bloc, London would be better positioned to conduct its own trade negotiations, better able to control immigration and free from what they believe to be excessive EU regulations and bureaucracy.
Those in favor of remaining in the bloc argued that leaving it would risk the UK's prosperity, diminish its influence over world affairs, and result in trade barriers between the UK and the EU.
The vote result caused political turmoil in Britain and sent economic shock waves through the country as well as global financial markets.