For far too long the chattering classes (political pundits, journalists, academics) blathered on and on about how Brexit was variously a protest against globalization, a protest against the elites (whoever they’re supposed to be, as they’re always conveniently undefined) and all manner of other clever ideas.
The problem was that none of these chatterers bothered to talk to people who supported Brexit.
I did. I’ve talked to a lot of Brexiteers and I’ve read a lot of the things they post online.
Here’s what we see when we look at what really motivates Brexiteers:
They cling to simple-minded sound-bites such as “taking back control.” When you ask any Brexiteer what this means, they have no idea. What can it mean in a globalized world in which no country, not even one as powerful as the USA, can make its own rules and expect others to obey? If the UK can’t get what it wants as part of the West’s largest trading bloc (500 million people) how can it expect to get what it wants as a small, isolated, 7th-ranking economy with its credibility in tatters? No idea. Just keep chanting “Brexit Means Brexit!”
Here are some classic reasons people voted for Brexit:
From a Welshman in Cardiff: “I voted for Brexit because I’m tired of the English coming to Wales and buying holiday homes here.”
From a woman in Birmingham: “We’ve got too many coloreds here.”
From a man in a seaside town: “It’s all them languages and all that foreign muck they eat.”
From a woman in a small town in the north of England: “We used to be great, we ruled the world. It’s about time we got it all back again.”
In other words, Brexit is a nostalgic fantasy rather than a coherent reality-based decision. Brexit-promoting politicians, after being astonished that so many people were actually stupid enough to vote for their lies, scrambled to pretend Brexit was really about freeing the UK from the shackles of Brussels so it could become a great trading nation once again.
The problem with this fairy-tale, of course, was that the EU made a lot of UK trade possible. Furthermore, if the EU prevents trade, how is it that Germany at the heart of the EU is one of the great exporting nations of…