My 350 on BREXIT: I feel like I have lost hope

"Even the creeping steps toward fascism were taken by city boys like Farage and Tories like Carswell. This is different. The public did this."

29 June 2016

In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can read them all here.

I predicted the vote would go this way. I told everyone that I was sure we would lose, although deep down I hoped that I was wrong. Now, I am just scared. I am scared because I used to have hope that things would get better rather than worse, and now I don’t feel it. Try as I might, I cannot make myself truly believe that Britain is not walking a well-trodden path toward fascism.

I know why I feel this way. Every step to the right used to feel like it was taken by politicians, bankers and elites. Even the creeping steps toward fascism were taken by city boys like Farage and Tories like Carswell. This is different. The public did this.

The moderate leave voters will say that they did not vote in a racist manner and I believe them, but if no racists had voted, we would have stayed in. The racist vote won the day and was given a tacit seal of approval by 17 million people. Moderate leavers will claim that they were not told how things would go after the vote. They were. They were told in no uncertain terms what would happen, but they rejected it through anti-intellectualism and snobbery. Whenever a new economist warned of the shock they would say that that person was beholden to the EU. When a constitutional lawyer warned of the political crisis they would claim that it was a class thing. All the while believing that Tories like Johnson and Gove had been trying their hardest to put money into the NHS if only the EU would let them.

The liars at the head of the leave campaign have only succeeded because of the willingness of the public to believe the lies. The information on what would happen was there if only they had bothered to look for it.

I am thoroughly working class. I used to believe that hope lay in solidarity with people like me. ‘If there is hope, it lies with the proles’: the British people have conclusively proven Orwell wrong.

Peter Geoghegan: dark money and dirty politics

Democracy is in crisis and unaccountable flows of money are helping to destroy it. Peter Geoghegan’s new book, ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’, charts how secretive money, lobbying and data has warped our democracy.

How has dark money bought our politics? What can be done to change the system?

Join us for a journey through a shadowy world of dark money and disinformation stretching from Westminster to Washington, and far beyond.

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In conversation:

Peter Geoghegan Dark Money Investigations editor at openDemocracy and the author of ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’.

Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy.

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