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Summer of discontent? (Illustration by Michael Daley, after Giorgione)


The European question has been given a decisive answer by the British people. We believe it was the right one. And it is final. Three other questions remain. Why did it happen? What does it mean? And what will happen next?

In a prompt, dignified and justified resignation speech, David Cameron declared that the country required fresh leadership. He is correct: it was indeed his failure to lead the whole country, rather than just the metropolitan elites, that brought about his downfall. The referendum revealed all too clearly a division between the Haves and the Have-Nots, between those privileged by and those deprived of higher education, suggesting that Britain is hardly less divided than it was in 1845 when Disraeli warned of two nations “between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy”. It was Chesterton who took up Disraeli’s critique: “Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget. / For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.”

Well, the people have spoken now. Two duumvirates — Blair and Brown followed by Cameron and Osborne — have presided over the widening and deepening of this chasm. Europe has been the catalyst for this latter-day peasants’ revolt. Lord Mandelson spoke for the self-appointed, self-aggrandising Europhile aristocracy when he dismissed the electorate’s verdict as “the worst day in post-war British history”. It didn’t feel like that for the masses of ordinary people who have now found their voice. For the people who woke up to find themselves living in a free country again, the defeat of the Europhile nobility feels like a liberation, even a revolution.

What does this result mean? It has been above all a vindication for two women: one alive, one dead. The Queen was enlisted on the Leave side early in the campaign, a claim firmly denied by the Palace. But there was no denial when later she was quoted as having asked her  guests: “Give me three good reasons why Britain should be part of Europe.” That was a clear signal that the Queen shares the Euroscepticism of the majority of her generation. Another member of that generation was Margaret Thatcher. Brexit was her posthumous triumph. Such a bouleversement might never have happened but for her inspirational articulation of the case against a European superstate.

For the moment, those who voted Leave, usually for reasons no less noble or unselfish than the other side, are being made to feel as if they had betrayed their country. The colossal condescension of the rulers to the ruled has mutated into fury. Europe, it turns out, was always a moral issue even more than an economic one. Since the result, expressions of social and intellectual snobbery towards the Leave regions have proliferated in the echo chamber of social media. Such malice would have shamed our Victorian ancestors. The hideous murder of the Yorkshire MP Jo Cox quite rightly shocked the nation; yet the Remain campaign tried to blame their opponents for an act of terrorism. The attempt failed, but it left a toxic legacy. The referendum had a high turnout and a clear result. It seems, however, that some of us have forgotten how to be good losers. A petition for a second referendum is doing the rounds; others are proposing to hijack the Conservative Party by the same entryist tactics that enabled Jeremy Corbyn to become Labour leader. Some will stop at nothing to stop Brexit.

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amcdonal6ee@btinternet.com
July 30th, 2016
3:07 PM
Douglas Murray is also vindicated and as equally ignored as Julie Burchill by our political leaders and PC BBC/media `content providers`. Pope Francis and the Catholic Church lead their lambs to slaughter declaring their is no islamofascist,satanic war against christians. Forgiveness is not what Winston Churchill advocated against the nazis. Being soft on islamofascist ideology and soft on it`s causes is a feature of all our political parties. Unlike in Holland. In purely theological terms Islam is satanic (lies). Martin Luther called the Pope of his time "a shitter" (the Spectator). The invention of printing spread his views throughout Europe. Donald Trump doesn`t claim to know why Islam hates us. The cheap readymade 20th century explanation is economic not psychoanalytical. A 21st century politics should be both. The Brexit victory was rational and instinctive. It created Theresa May as our feminist PM. The Labour Party now has 500,000 members.I might even vote Tory.

amcdonald
July 25th, 2016
2:07 PM
It`s not only the Queen and Margaret Thatcher vindicated but also Julie Burchill with her Voting Leave articles in the Spectator online.Totally ignored by the BBC and media ! The 17.4 million who voted Leave are the Holy Spirit (as defined by Zizek). Zizek is a great philosopher but all he has changed in this world is his t-shirt. Brexit got rid of Cameron and Osborne and forced the Tory Party to change. June 24 was a night that shook the world. We have created the greatest philosophical age in the history of civilisation. The 16.1 million Remainiacs now caricatured in Rod Liddle`s video at the Spectator.

Anonymous
July 12th, 2016
2:07 PM
Dear Mr Johnson, "The People" have not spoken. 52% of 72% of the People have spoken. It means, roughly, 37,5 of the British Voting People have voted Leave, 34,5% of the British Voting People have voted Remain. A little more than one third of The People, a little "less more" than one third of The People, and 28% that didn't care enough, but are still The People. 62,5 % of The People DID NOT vote Leave. Not a very conclusive and neat result. It could have been worse : it could have been 50% plus One Voice. One Voice to decide for half a billion People - because the consequences of the Brexit will touch every single citizen of the EU. That's the democratic glory of a referendum for you. To be clear : this is NOT a comment on the result, on the fundamental rightness or wrongness of this or that choice. It's about the "People" fetishism, natural child of a clumsily used, very dangerous instrument called "a referendum".

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