The great national split over Brexit represents a number of things – very few of which have any essential connexion with Europe. I pointed this out even before the actual Referendum: https://bernardjporter.com/2016/06/20/this-dreadful-referendum/. People used the vote to express their dissatisfaction with all kinds of things that were going on in British politics at that time, most of which had nothing to do with the EU, of which they knew very little, and what they did know, or thought they knew, was filtered through the right-wing press and its contributors, like Boris Johnson, who put out the lies about how Brussels wanted to permit only straight bananas, and the like. If they had been more genuinely interested in Europe the people would have seen through all that. But it was at the very edge of their field of political vision; until people like Farage – who themselves would also have lain at the edge of people’s vision had it not been for the opportunity a foolish, shallow prime minister gave them to take centre stage by calling his (Cameron’s) stupid, simplistic, in-or-out, now-or-never referendum – were quite fortuitously thrown to the front.
And it’s on the basis of this narrow vote, at entirely the wrong time; on the vaguest of terms; corrupted by electoral illegalities on the ‘Leave’ side which – if it weren’t too politically sensitive – should have landed some of the Leavers in goal by now; fed by demonstrably false propaganda; with the majority crucially influenced by a generation which is largely dead now, and so won’t have to put up with the effects of their vote; and maybe – who knows? – aided by Russia, who of course is desperate to pull the EU apart: it’s this decision that the Brexiteers feel is so sacrosanct that it would be ‘undemocratic’ to challenge it, and so are calling today’s London pro-EU demonstrators ‘bad losers’ and even ‘traitors’.
‘Bad losers’ are those who won’t accept the result of a game. This isn’t a game, it’s the most important existential decision Britain has made since 1939. Brexit can only serve the interests of rich investors and newspaper proprietors – some of whom, even Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg, are diverting their money out of Britain already. How were ‘the people’ persuaded to go along with these leeches? Ignorant racism may be part of the explanation (‘ignorant’ in the sense that Brexit may not even satisfy the racists). Or love of ‘characters’, however mad. I’ve suggested others in that June 2016 blog. If today’s march has no effect, historians are going to be left with these questions to puzzle over for decades. Well, at least that will give us something to do.
I wish I could have been on the demo, but I’m stuck in Sweden. Where, incidentally, a public meeting of ‘expats’ called by the British ambassador in Stockholm the other day gave some comfort to me personally, as one of Theresa May’s trans-nationals who deserve no consideration; and addressed as it was, clearly and honestly, by civil servants from both countries: Michael Gove’s derided ‘experts’. Thank God for them. And good luck to the brave protestors, including Brits from all over Europe as well as Britain. (As I write, the march has just started off.)