Posted on June 24th, 2016
Sadly, the Brexit campaign soon became less about the future and all about the past. Older people in rural England have felt increasingly marginalised and neglected for decades, dumped on during every financial crisis, always hit hardest by austerity. Cleverly exploited by the Leave campaign, this became payback time. Here was a chance to stick it to the elites in London and Brussels. And so they did.
Never mind that the future belongs mostly to 18-29 year-olds, 70% of whom supported Remain. This was a mutiny by older, white, poorly educated, English manual workers who read the Daily Mail and vote Conservative or UKIP.
You might expect such malcontents to realise it is they who suffer most from Cameron’s valiant efforts to entrench privilege and widen income inequality, but they blame it all on Europe. Nary a thought for the real arguments or how Britain will be weakened by Brexit. Within this Daily Mail reader bubble they are also unconcerned at a significant lurch to the political right. For that is what has happened. Power in Britain has shifted to Gove, Johnson and Farage, together with a repugnant bunch of sixty right-wing Tory backbenchers.
Here in France Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing Front National, was quick to demand a similar referendum. I sense that Continental Europeans have been so thoroughly exasperated by British ambivalence (the euro, migration and so much more) they will be quite happy to see her go.
Why, why, why was I born an Englishman! – my cursed, rotten-boned, pappy-hearted countrymen, why was I sent to them? – D. H. Lawrence