So this is what democracy feels like. This is what a ballot-box revolt looks like. Yesterday the people asserted themselves. They made plain their dislike of the EU. And they did so against virtually the entire establishment. The leaders of capitalism, the vast majority of the political class, experts, academics, world leaders, global institutions, the liberal media and the celebrity set united to warn the little people, to hector and lecture them, about the dangers of rejecting the EU. And yet the little people did it anyway. They said No to the EU, and in the process revolted against a political and media establishment that thinks it knows better than us how Britain should be run. This was an uprising, a polite, quiet one, not only against Brussels but against the political class here at home, against those who rule.
Let us dwell for a moment on the failure of the establishment. It pumped an extraordinary amount of energy, money, time and intellectual resources into the campaign to keep Britain in the EU. It deployed the politics of fear, issuing dire warnings about a post-Brexit recession and a possible surge in racism and violence. It sent experts to explain to our tiny minds all the things that would happen if we made the wrong choice. It rallied big business, corporates, its global partners and allies, all of whom insisted that it is in Britain’s interests, and Europe’s interests, for the EU to stay intact. And yet it didn’t work. Even in the face of these fearful overtures from the powerful, a majority of people rejected the EU. The establishment can no longer connect with significant sections of society. The chasm between the elite and the people just went from huge to possibly unbridgeable.
And this isn’t only a problem for the governing party: the Tories. Yes, the divide in that party has been stark, personified in the clash between Cameron and Boris, and Cameron’s resignation this morning will no doubt intensify Tory fissures. But consider the extraordinary drubbing Labour has taken. Many of its strongholds in the north-east and the Midlands voted against the EU, flat-out refusing to do what Labour leaders implored them to. Labour’s estrangement from its voter base has become explicit. And consider the inability of expert cliques and media commentators — who play a key role in politicking in the 21st century — to win people over to Remain. From Yanis Varoufakis, who traipsed round the country with a band of pro-EU British leftists, to the scientific lobby, which pleaded with us to stay for the sake of scientific funding, to the educational establishment, with its statements about the importance of staying, they all failed. The establishment failed. It stands exposed as utterly disconnected, and morally impotent.