A not entirely accurate map Credit - Wik

We have a varied palette of excuses why Brexit really just should not happen. Various commentators run through the rainbow of reasons over time – each one trying each in turn. So here’s William Keegan with one of the more common. Us voters out here, we’re just too dim and ignorant to know:

In the London Review of Books, political scientist David Runciman, whose views I usually respect, suggests that “a decision to reverse the Brexit vote would … have serious consequences for national prestige”. Sorry, but the Brexit vote has itself had serious consequences for national prestige. A parliamentary vote to reverse it would demonstrate that at last we have seen sense.

At which point I should emphasise that I do not wish to “badmouth” the many ordinary citizens who voted for Brexit. But I do think they were not informed about what was at stake.

That is the statement he’s making. We’re dim. Too dim and ignorant to be allowed to take such a decision ourselves. We must be over ruled by those better informed – Keegan’s mates in that Westminster bubble that is.

Hey, it’s a case you can certainly make. It’s rather an elitist one, the peeps know nuttin’ so shouldn’t really have any influence. Only we enlightened know what’s good for the country so we should get to decide without interference from those hoi polloi. It’s rather more than just elitist in fact, it’s a class dictatorship.

It’s also not democracy which is that over riding insistence that the people should get what they vote for, good and hard. But then the EU itself isn’t a democratic organisation which is why so many elitists insist we must stay in, isn’t it?

I can’t speak for my fellow Leavers but to me the major reason to go was exactly this. Hey, possibly it will all be a glorious Mongolian clusterhuddle. But it’s be our clusterhuddle, as will everything else we do in the next few decades to centuries. Which really is rather the point of this whole democracy idea, that we get to rule us, isn’t it?

Support Continental Telegraph Donate


  1. Didn’t the remain campaign have plenty of opportunity to tell us what was at stake? Why did they waste their time on project fear, so transparently false? Why did they lie about so much? Why did they NEVER tell us what is so wonderful about EU membership? If after their campaign they failed to convince enough of us to vote their way, to blame our ignorance is only to proclaim their own failure.

    • Remain will eventually appear in textbooks as a classic example of how not to run a political campaign. Leave erected the elephant trap of “We send the EU £350 million a week” (a slight underestimate of the true gross number, as even the BBC agrees) and Remain fell straight into it. They insisted on trying to ‘correct’ it, claiming it should be ‘only’ £200 million or £150 million, and (of course) all the electorate heard was “the EU costs us a bloody fortune”.

  2. It was partly the somewhere/anywhere thing, the dismissive contempt with which Brussels (and Westminster) appeared to view any and all concerns, the disturbing mass movement of people, that Britain was in a rut and needed a jolt, a wish to piss off the establishment… I could go on. As far as national prestige is concerned, I recall a time in the 1970s when were the laughing stock of the world, when Brits were viewed far worse than the eastern European migrants who currently wash our cars. That we now enjoy a certain level of prestige is down to the efforts of ‘ordinary citizens’ who voted for Brexit. We had a reasonable idea about what was at stake – were certainly warned of the pitfalls. If ordinary citizens are considered competent to sit on a jury and judge complex fraud cases, we are competent to vote on Brexit.

  3. To a certain extent they are correct, we are a parliamentary democracy not a majoritarian one and in no small part because the average person doesn’t have the time, or inclination, to be well informed about every subject.

    To which I counter that Parliament abdicated its responsibilities in 1975 and then again in 2016 so the establishment can’t now complain that they didn’t like the 2016 decision when they were happy to accept the 1975 one.

    As to the reasons why Leave won, they are many and varied but Gordon Brown’s “that woman” incident sums up perfectly why a lot of people were angry with said establishment.

  4. When we are out the political class in the UK will adapt. They will lose none of their elitist arrogance or their contempt of the rest of us. Eventually they will say leaving was their idea. ‘Us and Them’ will still be the main feature of UK politics.

  5. Yup. I just don’t trust these people. They talk in terms of commerce and the effects, but nearly all of them have never worked in a competitive business. So, what’s the game really about? And my answer is that it’s really about promoting elite power: getting decisions away from the proles as much as possible.

  6. To paraphrase Prof Brignell… “Putting ‘Political’ in front of ‘scientist’ is equivalent to putting ‘witch’ in front of ‘doctor'”. The same caveat applies to ‘social’!

  7. More from Runciman: ‘By choosing to quit the European Union, the majority of British voters may have looked as if they were behaving with extraordinary recklessness. But in reality their behaviour too reflected their basic trust in the political system with which they were ostensibly so disgusted, because they believed that it was still capable of protecting them from the consequences of their choice.’

    Way to get the wrong end of the stick. We don’t need protecting, we need to get rid of the denizens of the system too, by and by.

  8. Hmm always said if you don’t understand something it’s perfectly reasonable and completely predictable that people will not to want to be part of it. Initially we heard a lot from those who think that ignorance invalidates a person’s choice of who to be ruled by. That’s not expressed so much now. The reasonable response is to try and explain that which they didn’t understand. So ok explain what ‘ever closer union means’, explain why it was EU not US and Nato that secured post war Europe? Explain qualified majority voting, explain the commission, the law, the budget and the powers of the court and abilities of democratic representatives to have input in all that. Once you do explain all that though, you’ll find you haven’t moved too many minds, certainly no hearts.

  9. When I didn’t know much about the EU I was in favour of our membership. However, the more I looked into it – even as a member of the RemainAreUs Party – the more I couldn’t see supportable arguments to increasingly restrict our ability to make decisions about our own lives.

    We are not children, I can’t understand the clamouring to be stripped of our adult decision-making abilities. Even if you chose to make the same decisions as your parents did when you were children, that is not a reason to ban you from making your own decisions just on the horrific chance you may chose to do something different to your parents. I couldn’t distinguish Remain arguments to stay in the EU from those used to deny women the vote and for Rhode’s strip-mining Africa.

    • Indeed. Scotland is a member of a union (the UK) in which they are significantly democratically over-represented, and in receipt of substantial fiscal transfers. Exactly the reverse is true of Britain’s membership of the EU.