At its core, Brexit is about bureaucracy—so how did it become a referendum on national feeling?by Jason Reed / September 11, 2019 / Leave a comment
Legend has it, many centuries ago, ancient forms of discourse existed in which it was possible to discuss British politics without mentioning the EU. In this Brexit-free land of policy milk and honey, the tales tell, right-wing populism was unheard of, the single market was the preserve of dating sites and people in the political sphere spent their time mulling over domestic policy issues such as taxation and public services.
The sheer scale of our current predicament is not to be under-estimated. In June—before the spike in passions brought by the Boris bounce (and subsequent clang)—a YouGov poll found that a thumping majority of Conservatives care so deeply about Brexit that they would be willing to see the destruction of their own party, “significant damage” to our economy and even the collapse of the Union via both Scottish independence and Irish reunification if it meant the UK—or what’s left of it—could finally leave the EU.
Things are no less surreal on the other side of the debate. At least 34 MPs have ditched—or been ditched by—their parties for not being Remain-y enough (or, as it happens, too Remain-y themselves). Any political Twitter person will testify to the uniquely piercing virtual screeches of the #FBPE crowd. Most Remainers declare that they would be upset if their children dared to take a Leave-voter as a spouse.
As the outer edge of the Overton window has tiptoed further and further towards Remain, the stance of the Westminster Brussels shills has morphed from Soft Brexit into People’s Vote and is now breaching Revoke, with Jo Swinson leading the charge and the entire Liberal Democrat resurgence predicated on unrelenting Europhilia.
In short, we are all very concerned about Brexit indeed. But disentangling oneself from the quagmire of Brexit discourse, zooming out and regaining some perspective soon reveals that for most of us there is little to no reason why this should be the case.
A mere few years ago, few knew the first thing about the EU. On 24 June 2016, the second most Googled question in the UK was “what is the EU?”—beaten only by “what does it mean to leave the EU?”
It is thanks primarily to Nigel Farage that we went so quickly from that point of blissful ignorance to our current state of total submission to the…