I have a lot of left wing, Brexiter friends at work. I’ve often found it odd that a person would adopt both political postures. It some ways, it is odd. In others – particularly with regard the fairly overt xenophobia many of them display – it is far from odd. One of the reasons I voted Remain, one of many reasons, is that Brexit was ultimately a far-right project and I simply wouldn’t plant my flag in their camp.
My left wing, Brexiter friends are very upset with the current government. Furious. Disgusted, even. Which has lead to some interesting, lively, chats. Because as far as I can see, they voted for Boris and co. No, no, they say. I voted Corbyn in 2019. Yes, yes, I say. You voted Brexit in 2016. And this current government, I’m sorry to say, is the direct consequence. The inevitable consequence of their desire to leave the EU.
When 52% of the population voted in favour of a far-right policy in 2016, David Cameron sensibly scarpered. It wasn’t a policy he could sign up to. Theresa May thought that she might be able to produce a compromise, but Brexit was a binary issue. In or out. And Theresa was out. So the far-right policy based on lies got what it needed to see it through – a far-right government adept at lying.
But if I’m not mistaken, the fog is starting to clear for some of them. Not all of them. There are a hard core few who are absolutely outraged that the Royal Navy aren’t machine gunning rubber boats full of immigrants in the channel. But for some of them, the reality is dawning upon them. Priti Patel, Rees-Mogg, Dorries, Frost, incompetent chancers who have spent their careers being laughed at on the fringes, suddenly found themselves in senior roles within the government. This would not, could not, have happened in a Britain that had voted Remain.
A government lead by someone who has long been known to be a liar and a thug. He’s not there by chance. Not really. It’s too late for my left wing, Brexiter friends to grumble. It’s too late to complain about the dishonesty, corruption and incompetence. They’ve been fond of calling the 2016 referendum the greatest exercise of democracy* in British history. They knew what they wanted. And now they are getting it good and hard, as the saying goes.
* Even there, they are wrong. The 1992 General Election saw more votes cast.