Upsetting people named Jolyon or Gaia was the main reason I voted to leave the European Union.
People like me—you know, ordinary types who don’t feel out of place in a pub, who drop our Gs, who couldn’t care less for politically correct mannas and other luxuries of confected middle-class oppression—got an unhealthy bang out of that.
Seeing the soi-disant smart set squirm at our vote to leave still tastes sweet. For months after June 23, 2016, that gorgeous high did not leaven. The elite calls for a second referendum only deepened the narcotic warmth.
Those guys who sent our good jobs abroad, and told us to get on our bikes. Those who somehow found the time to dream up a laundry list of things that made us “racist.” They, who banned smoking in our bars they dared not frequent. They who called us “gammon” for harboring views the vast majority hold, too. To beat them, just once, felt good. One-nil, posh boys.
Well, those posh boys with names like Jolyon, inspired by a popular household oven cleaner, didn’t approve of the audience chiming in on their kabuki theatre.
They are fighting back. Remarkably, one Jolyon wants us plebs to shed the blood.
Writing in The Guardian this week, Jolyon Maugham QC, a noted legal brain and relentless Remainer, implored those he sees as cleaners, housekeepers, and not much else, to general-strike in the name of keeping his mustard corduroys in the EU.
But Jolyon is no intellectual slough. He skilfully peppers the column with populist language like “the people,” “we,” and “our,” despite being galaxies away from those he implores to do his dirty work.
One would be excused in thinking Maugham is a skillful populist tribune concerned solely with the plight of the hardscrabbled, but he is a fashionable pretender.
His original efforts to sabotage Brexit were a little less salt-of-the-earth. Indeed, the hotshot lawyer spent his early resistance in the courts, tying up Brexit via legal chicanery. That was before casting himself as man of the people whom he now holds in Steinbeckian reverence.
Jolyon’s desperation echoes that of his well-connected milieu. Except now, they’ve dropped the pretense quicker than their plummy tone when encountering a member of the lower orders with a different opinion.
Brexit must be stopped. Forget the plebs. This is our club, is the gist.
One Cabinet lawmaker, Amber Rudd, this week suggested a second referendum was the only way out of our impasse. How is anyone’s guess. The sands haven’t shifted in two-and-a-half years. And won’t. Yet, this line of thinking grows in decibel.
The “People’s Vote,” an offensive joke just months ago, is now a strong possibility, as May’s doomed deal, whether by accident or design, sits dead on arrival. The demand for a re-sit thickens.
For some, this was the plan all along. Tony Blair, whom you’ve perhaps deduced isn’t on my Christmas card list, Svengalizes a movement determined to overturn the people. The elites, as Christopher Lasch contended—both in adjective and verb—are revolting.
Their success hinges on Parliament rejecting May’s deal. Right now, it won’t pass. But recent, and wholly late developments could change that.
After surviving a leadership challenge, May listened, for once, to those around her. Though divided, half of her Cabinet now busies itself with preparing the minimum needed to leave the EU with no deal.
Remainers call this a “car crash.” The Cabinet Brexiteers call it “managed no-deal.” Indeed, it is being seriously ramped up, with some $2.5 billion being funneled to government departments to keep goods flowing in and out, ports open, and things running as smoothly as possible.
This gung-ho notion has spooked the EU. “There’s no such thing as a managed no-deal!” cried the EU’s Guy Verhofstadt. Well, mate, there is.
Andrea Leadsom, a lawmaker, and leader of the House of Commons, told the BBC on Thursday that a managed no-deal would “avoid a cliff edge.”
“What I am looking at is trying to find an alternative so that in the event that we cannot agree to this deal that there could be a further deal that looks at a more minimalist approach but enables us to leave with some kind of implementation period,” she said.
“That avoids a cliff edge, that avoids uncertainty for businesses and travellers and so on,” Leadsom added.
With fewer than 100 days until we officially leave, the threat of no-deal is resonating with the EU. They need us, too.
Of course, actually leaving without a deal isn’t the end game of May or her cabinet. Demonstrating a willingness to do so, ostensibly at least, is meant to quicken minds across the water.
As mentioned recently, May’s deal is bedraggled by the hated “backstop” which would tie us to the EU, if triggered. Get rid of that, and her deal will likely chop through parliamentary thickets.
So, the specter of no-deal might just force the EU to welch the backstop. They might hold the razor noseward, but they’ll never commit the steel to skin. And they want their $50 billion payday.
Failing that, we could always rerun the referendum. Leave would win again. And the Jolyons and the Gaias would cry foul. Two-nil, posh boys—a delightful prospect.
Photo Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images