The Remainers’ deceptive EU dream is over

A Union flag flies behind a European Union flag, outside the Houses of Parliament

A Union flag flies behind a European Union flag, outside the Houses of Parliament

Seven years after voting Leave, the Remainers have finally gotten rid of the man they and their EU allies personally blame for Brexit. There is a loud cry… Of what? Of triumph? No, more vindictive jubilation. Whatever Boris Johnson’s myriad flaws – and I find it hard to forgive him for wasting a historic political opportunity – the language of his opponents tells us a lot about what happened in those seven years and these last weeks.

The arguments that some of them advance are perhaps more revealing than they hear. Matthew Syed in The Sunday Times diagnosed the ‘psychological state of the UK’ as ‘doublethink’ (‘being aware of the total truth while telling carefully constructed lies’) – then, with a comical lack of self-awareness, blames a whole list things about Brexit that he needs to know have nothing to do with it. Martin Kettle in The Guardian blurts out that Johnson’s tarring and feathering by the Privileges Committee is “fundamentally Brexit-related”. Oh, so it’s not just about whether he misled Parliament. It’s about reversing Brexit, says Kettle. Isn’t that what Johnson and his supporters claim?

Explaining Brexit as a whole to Boris Johnson (Syed thinks he’s ‘cast a spell’ on the electorate) shows a surprisingly shallow understanding of the politics of the past seven plus years. Do they understand nothing about the root causes, both national and international, of the 2016 election? Nothing about the drop in support for the EU across Europe, which led to No votes in referendums in France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Greece?

I remember a rather tall Remainer in Cambridge who assured me that she finally understood Brexit because her gardener and housekeeper had explained it. Maybe the anti-Brexit experts could try asking them.

There is a psychological process at work when Vocal Remainers accuse their political opponents of precisely what they themselves are guilty of: “doublethink” and lying. This is an ego defense mechanism called “projection”; or in common parlance, the kettle calling the black pot. There have indeed been a lot of what the Remainers like to call “lies”, but they have been almost entirely on the side of the Remainer/Rejoiner. On the Leave side, the example they keep coming back to is the famous Vote Leave bus. Contrast that with the torrent of false claims that have been made for seven years by Remainers, and are still being made.

I don’t like to make accusations of lying. Let’s just say that prominent Remainers aren’t just frugal with the truth: they’re Scrooge-like parsimony with it. It all started with “Project Fear”: an immediate threat of recession, mass unemployment, an emergency budget and huge tax increases. What followed were years of hand-picked pessimism laced with bullshit so gross that, if it weren’t willful untruths, it demonstrates a staggering degree of ignorance both on the part of those who utter it and on the part of those who believe them.

My favorite is the statement reported by former Remainer MP Heidi Allen (remember her?) who claimed that eight million people – a quarter of the total workforce! – would lose their jobs. In fact, employment increased by more than one million. Later, former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said that Brexit had shrunk the economy significantly compared to the German economy. But, in truth, Britain had grown faster than Germany, and continues to do so. Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood has been saying for at least a year, despite being corrected, that Brexit has caused a 4% hit to the economy.

During BBC Question Time on June 1, Lord Patten, Chancellor of Oxford and thus a man who one would expect to weigh his words, produced a series of inaccuracies: for example, due to Brexit, the UK is now poorer than Lithuania, and the poorest in Britain are poorer than their equivalent in Poland. Even a cursory search would have refuted these statements. GDP per capita in Lithuania is about half that of the UK when measured in dollars, and the poorest in Poland are about 20% worse off than their British equivalent.

Those who make such statements – and these are just a small sample – are obviously not fools. But they are guilty ignorant at best. Remainers/Rejoiners are reckless with the truth. They pour vitriol on Johnson for misleading the Commons on partygate, but they grossly mislead the country on the greatest political issue of our time, and they apparently do so with a light heart.

How to explain this “double thinking”? I’m not sure I can. But I would suggest a few possible components. One is intellectual and social arrogance. Another is that the real issue for them is not the pros and cons of EU membership, trade relations, diplomacy and the rest. It is a struggle for political and cultural power, and (as Kettle put it in his article for The Guardian) to “take back control”.

From whom? Of the people, of course. The facts are therefore secondary, certainly the facts about the EU, which the enthusiastic Rejoins seem to know and care little about. As the philosopher John Gray said, “they see themselves as embodiments of reason, facing the ignorant passions of the unwashed populace”, and to do this they create “a dangerous myth, in which the EU is a semi-sacred institution. ”. Therefore, capable of miracles and immune to criticism.

Why worship this tarnished sanctuary? Do not underestimate personal interest, vanity, the weight of routine, and even convenience (not wanting to queue on the way to the farmhouse in Aquitaine). Economist Sir Paul Collier also suggests that “Europeanism” is a way for the relatively privileged to offload their responsibilities to poorer citizens.

More broadly, it takes a huge effort – more than we Leavers realized – to transform what one analyst calls a “member state” (where the political class derives power and legitimacy from their counterparts in other states) into a “nation”. State” (where power and legitimacy come from the citizens). The joiners do not want, or are afraid, to become a nation-state again. But they are unable to rationally defend EU membership, so they resort to untruths and accuse their opponents of lying – that ego defense of projection.

Meanwhile, on planet Earth, there are still a few politicians trying to make Brexit work on practical matters, and a few pundits (not the kind dismissed by Michael Gove) supporting them. They have to wade through a wave of “progressive” views, the inertia of much of the civil service and the groupthink of academia, and of course the EU’s understandable strategy to make things so difficult as possible – a strategy that influential Rejoiners have always encouraged, as diaries published by Michel Barnier reveal.

Nevertheless, there is progress, political and economic. Long before Brexit, our trade was steadily moving away from Europe, and therefore our political and security focus as well. Aukus is a post-Brexit recognition of a new alignment. The same goes for the recent favorable trade treaty with Australia and the announced membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). We begin to unravel EU law.

As slow as it seems, there is coherence and a turning point towards the future. He pursues a retrograde policy, aspiring to a European vision that had vanished long before the ever more chimerical Brexit. Destroying Boris won’t change reality.

Robert Tombs is the most recent author of “This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe”

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