Disappointed Remainers may be anxious and upset at having their European identity “ripped away from them”, but Brexiteers have been voiceless and disenfranchised for their entire lives. The collective middle class hissy fit from sore loser Remain supporters is nothing more than their privileged reaction to not getting their own way for once
Melissa Kite tells an anecdote in The Spectator which will be immediately familiar to any Brexiteer stuck behind “enemy lines” with a social circle consisting primarily of disappointed Remain supporters:
‘Of course, there will be no air quality now,’ said a friend, shaking her head over my support for Brexit.
‘Air quality,’ she said. ‘Or green belt. Or Sites of Special Scientific Interest, preserving the countryside and wildlife… All those really good EU regulations have all gone now.’
‘What on earth are you talking about?’ I started to feel exasperated, inwardly thinking, ‘Uh-oh, here goes another friendship…’
‘All those EU regulations safeguarding everything. All gone. No more air-quality rules. No more SSSIs.’
‘So you’re saying Brexiteers have ruined the air now, are you? That’s where we are up to with the scaremongering? No more air now we’re out of the EU.’
‘Well, I’m just saying…’
The air of surly resentment against Brexiteers – ranging from generalised “woe is me” laments to very specific lists of the many plagues of Egypt which will now befall them in an independent Britain – is getting tiresome in the extreme.
And it gets worse:
‘Oh my god! The scaremongering!’ I moaned. ‘I’ve had it up to here with it!’
‘Fine. We won’t talk about it,’ said my friend, who is a science teacher and ought to know her stuff when it comes to SSSIs and all that malarkey.‘I’m just saying, they’ll probably build all over the green belt now. And big business will take over the world…’
‘Stop it! I can’t take any more! There’s nothing you can say that will make me regret backing Brexit. Even if you tell me they’re going to build a million houses on every last inch of the green belt, and turn all the air into carbon monoxide, I still want to be able to elect the people who make the laws that govern me!’
‘Fine. We won’t talk about it. Although you could elect them if you bothered, but no one does…’
‘Not the MEPs! They don’t make the laws! The commissioners make the laws and they’re unelected… Oh my god, I’m turning back…’
‘Fine, let’s just not talk about it at all. My son just got a job and he’s bought two new suits…’
I assumed she was going to say, ‘…that were made out of toxic, poisonous wool because all the safety laws have been scrapped so he ended up in A&E…’ but she didn’t.
Of course Brexiteers would be equally grumpy if the result had gone the other way (as many of us expected it to), but it is hardly comparable. Remainers at least got to enjoy the European Union for all this time. Brexiteers had to suffer it.
But certainly, this blog would certainly have been apoplectic in the event of a Remain vote, and with good reason. Remainers love to whinge that the Leave campaign won based on lies and distortions, while conveniently overlooking the fact that the prime minister and chancellor debased their high offices by using the full machinery of government and Whitehall to work incessantly for a Remain vote.
Whether it’s the £9m government propaganda mailshot, the Obama intervention, Cameron’s violation of purdah rules or the way in which the Remain campaign shrank the debate to focus purely on the economy and then wheeled out expert after expert to suggest that the avoidance of short-term economic disruption should be our sole concern (while utterly ignoring the democratic question), the Remain campaign is just as guilty of lies and obfuscation as Vote Leave.
More to the point, Remain had a massive advantage in the status quo factor which makes it prohibitively difficult for the radical option to prevail in a referendum. Not only did they have the 24/7 support of the British government propelling them onward, they had a built-in advantage of thousands of wavering voters who would ultimately vote for continuity. And still they could not triumph. Without these aids, the margin of victory for Leave would likely have been even greater.
So while Remain supporters may be disappointed now, it is worth remembering that nothing will change for them until Britain actually leaves the EU (whenever that may be), and that many of the things which they treasure to the extent that they were willing to bargain away our democracy may still be available to them. Certainly if Britain pursues an interim EFTA/EEA access solution (as this blog advocates) then their economic nightmares will prove utterly unfounded while their precious freedom of movement is left largely untouched.
And while Remainers may be devastated at the prospect of soon no longer being EU citizens, Brexiteers have had to endure being in the EU against our will since 1973. And while I’m dreadfully sad that Remainers will not get precisely what they want handed to them on a silver plate for once in their lives, many Brexiteers have suffered what we see as an undemocratic, unjust status quo for our entire lives. Let’s not get so caught up in concern for the Brexit-inspired mental trauma of Phoebe and Rupert from Islington that we forget the fact that Jack and Gary from Sunderland have been losing out for decades, and only now are getting the opportunity to taste victory for the first time in their lives.
Of course, much of the commentariat struggles to wrap their heads around the fact that Brexit is not a calamity for everyone. They live among Phoebes and Ruperts, and rarely (if ever) meet Jacks or Garys, let alone identify with their lives, struggles and ambitions. That’s why the Guardian finds endless examples of delicate people whose anxiety has gone through the roof and have retreated to their safe spaces in terror, but then extends the same nauseating sympathy to celebrating Brexiteers, assuming that we uneducated rubes have been tricked to vote against our own interests and will soon regret our vote for democracy and self-governance.
What we are now witnessing, with these tearful examples of pampered middle class pseudo-trauma and calls to ignore the result of the EU referendum or to keep holding votes until the British public give the “right” answer, are nothing but a collective hissy fit from people who have had their way since 1973 and are furiously, childishly determined that nobody else should ever get to influence the future of their country and exercise control over their lives.
And while remaining magnanimous toward individuals and genuinely disappointed EU supporters in general, we should treat any further such selfish, self-pitying sentiments with the scorn they richly deserve.
Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.