Brexit: a closed chapter
How to judge a policy.
JB: I originally wrote and published this in May 2021. It is more partisan in character than I would normally like, but I felt the strong need to put it out there for others to read.
There are many ways to judge a policy. One old-fashioned way is by its results. A more popular way in recent times has been by how it fits the ideals of the intelligentsia or the media.
By the first test, Brexit freed Britain from the economic and legal constraints of an inefficient and aristocratic European Union. By the second test, it was a dismal failure.
Time and time again the smug smarties on the news and social media said that an independent Britain would be a failure. And time and time again the results showed otherwise.
It started even before we knew we’d be leaving the EU. In the run-up to the 2016 referendum more than 300 scholars, journalists and pollsters were asked to predict what would happen. 90 per cent thought that British voters would choose to remain in the EU. Brexit was dismissed by Vince Cable as a vote by old people who longed for a world where “faces were white” and the map of the world was “coloured imperial pink,” as it was during the era of the British Empire. No evidence was asked for or given for such sweeping statements about the electorate.
Britain voted to leave the EU not just in affluent rural areas, but also in the areas that were lagging behind. Nor was it an old white man’s vote as so many in the media dismissed it. A majority of both Sikhs and Jews voted to leave. A third of all Black and ethnic minority voters backed it, in fact. To all of these people and more, the result was clear. It was only baffling to those who hadn’t been paying attention.
Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Live programme in 2019, author and Guardian contributor Will Self remarked, “Every racist and anti-Semite in the country, pretty much, probably voted for Brexit.” Media elites were not short on sweeping statements.
The fact that Boris Johnson won the 2019 general election by a landslide on a “Get Brexit Done” campaign did not cause any re-evaluation of the policy. It was just dumb luck or simplistic messaging, they thought.
Now the media line was that this buffoon and his chums would be taught a lesson when they had to negotiate with the EU and face up to their chauvinism.
The new prime minister succeeded in putting through Parliament an agreement to leave the EU within the year. And he negotiated a number of favourable trade agreements with the world’s biggest economies. But this caused no re-evaluation of Brexit.
Where the Brexit voters would really get showed up, supposed the smarties, was in the economy. The BBC rolled out one expert after another to chide the benighted masses for the economic storm they were about to unleash on Britain.
The economy remained stable during a year-long pandemic and lockdown, and then grew as the vaccine was rolled out. More dumb luck, apparently.
When the pandemic struck Britain right after we officially left the EU, all the experts predicted our independence would leave us isolated as the EU countries raced ahead with a vaccine.
Those experts were nowhere to be seen when a free and independent Britain rolled out its second round of vaccines, just at the time that the EU countries were squabbling like teenagers. Once again, results carried no weight with the intelligentsia and media.
Our independence has only just begun. We can finally close the chapter on Brexit. The people who voted for it did so smiling, especially when we proved the smug smarties wrong time and time again. That’s a great policy—if you judge by results.