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My 350 on BREXIT: An act of utter ignorance

Many have claimed that it is high time for the establishment to start listening. It is not. Rather, it is high time Leave voters started listening.”

As a UK resident for three years and an Anglophile whose biggest ambition in life is to acquire a British accent, I am devastated. A Malcom Tucker monologue best describes my immediate reaction when the results came in, an Adele song my current inner state.

I am disappointed over Brexit and saddened by what Britain seems to have become. But maybe it simply never was what I saw it as in the first place? Having recently tried to travel to London with my partner, who has the misfortune of having the wrong sort of passport, I experienced how British authorities humiliate citizens of those countries they screwed up in those good old days that many Leave voters long to return to. It infuriated me. It reflects what those behind the recent wave of hatred and racist abuse want the UK to be like.

Much has been written about how the Leave vote was some sort of working class revolt against the establishment.

It was not. It was really just a large number of people from very different parts of society doing something incredibly dumb. They fell for the racism and cheap scapegoating of a right-wing press that is everything but anti-establishment. They chose to blindly believe the lies and false promises of public school boys like Farage, Gove and Johnson. Calling this a rise of the working class is an insult to the labour movement. Last year’s general election was a good enough opportunity to revolt against those in power.

Many have claimed that it is high time for the establishment to start listening.

It is not. Rather, it is high time Leave voters start listening to those who offer slightly more complex, more challenging explanations of the world. To those whose expertise was so very much not in demand.

And it is time for these elites to speak up. Both the Left and the Right let Monty-Pythonesque discourses on the EU and on immigration flourish for too long. And in doing so they enabled a Leave campaign completely detached from reality to get away with its racism, lies and false promises, and for it to eventually succeed.

Tragically many Leave voters will be among those hit hardest by the consequences of Brexit. “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard” quipped the great German-American writer H. L. Mencken a century ago. Getting it good and hard they will.

About the author

Ragnar Weilandt is a doctoral researcher at the University of Warwick and the Université libre de Bruxelles as well as a freelance journalist working on the European Union and the greater Middle East. He co-founded FactCheckEU.org, a watchdog monitoring European politicans' statements on EU affairs. Follow him on twitter @ragnarweilandt

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