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Home Uncategorized Brexit: 1649 or 1688?

Brexit: 1649 or 1688?

The politics and debate around the Brexit referendum are far removed from the anodyne world of winning over the “don’t knows”, an objective which often characterises general election campaigns in Britain. This, among other things, makes the contest unusually interesting. There is a passionate public discussion under way, especially in England; it is about basic existential questions: what the country is and what it can become. It is as if the English are finally getting around to responding to Dean Acheson’s observation made fifty years ago. For the vast majority it seems the strongly felt and emotional answer is that Britain’s role will not be as one among equals in Europe. It will not be, in the words of Delia Smith – a rare pro-Europe voice ‑ one of a number of democratic countries trying to work together. (Yes, that is Delia Smith the cookery writer; the referendum is engaging people well outside the usual frame; no one feels it should be left to the politicians.) Basically England is divided between those who want out of the EU and those who want half-out, at least for now. There are very few pro-Europe voices being heard. One Guardian contributor dismissed the genuinely pro-EU element of the population as numbering no more than 20,000. He also said they were probably vegetarians. The Brexit referendum is not the standard Tory-Labour arm wrestle; the toffs are divided, as are the working classes. New and unprecedented alliances have emerged in a campaign which is decidedly not about pandering to the floaters, as some have discovered to their dismay. One such is Suzanne Moore, who in a Guardian opinion piece lamented: When I tell people I am a floating voter and undecided, I suppose I naively imagine those who are certain will try to persuade me of their case. In fact, both sides just shout different insults at me. Others may feel it’s good enough for Ms Moore and that the “don’t knows” have held the whip hand long enough. even though, as the outcome is likely to be close, their votes may actually determine the result. By early May Boris Johnson had emerged as the main voice on the Leave side. One can see how this happened. Nigel Farage is too marginal and perhaps too peculiar-looking, while older Tories like Iain Duncan Smith, who are the ideological successors of those who built the empire, for the most part inhabit…



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