Brexit is a vote for democracy, not the establishment

Guy Birchall

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According to some, the only people who want to leave the EU are posh people with double-barrelled surnames.

A report from the recent premiere of Brexit: The Movie, a documentary making the free-market case for leaving the EU, likened the well-to-do attendees to ‘sixth-formers, gangly with pinched-in faces, still growing into their dinner jackets, the kind of kids who occasionally exclaim “huzzah!” without any sense of shame’. You know, lots of people called Tarquin swanning about drinking port – the implication being that voting to leave the EU is the establishment’s choice.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The establishment has always been pro-EU. The leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru have all voiced their support for our continued membership of the EU (even if some don’t support continued membership of the UK).

This week we were treated to the ridiculous spectacle of George Osborne, Ed Balls and Vince Cable posing in front of a Ryan Air plane, emblazoned with the phrase, ‘Stronger, safer and better off in Europe’. Three people who were knocking seven bells out of each other during the General Election last year are now united in a desperate attempt to keep Britain in the EU. You can’t help but be concerned by the uniformity of our current politics.

It’s not just the political-party establishments that are lining up to tell us how awful it will be if we choose to back Brexit in June. The Bank of England, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Goldman Sachs, US president Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have all stuck their oar in to stop us making the wrong choice.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde gave Brits a brief lecture on how daft it was for the UK (the world’s fifth-largest economy) to think it could cope on its own. She said she had ‘not seen anything that is positive’ about Brexit and warned that it could ‘lead to a technical recession’. According to Lagarde, the outlook post-Brexit would be somewhere between ‘pretty bad to very, very bad’.

The fact that a few people with plummy accents support Brexit doesn’t make it the establishment view – particularly when the global political, financial and cultural elite is united against it. Rather than benefitting the elite, Brexit would be a step in the right direction for democracy and greater political accountability. There’s nothing the establishment hates more than the idea of the public in control of politics.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

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