June 27, 2016 | Nick

Brexit is not analagous to Trumpism

I think that much of the analysis of the Brexit is completely off-beam. Perhaps the worst is the comparison drawn between the success of the Leave campaign and the success of the Trump campaign for the US Presidency.
In fact, the Leave campaign is the sort of thing that creates movements like the one that has propelled Trump.
Boris Johnson and his cadre are not the same as Nigel Farage and UKIP. They are not committed to an anti-immigration platform. They are not committed to the kind of economic nationalism which puts international competitiveness at risk.
The thing is, they needed the people who do hold those views. There is no way that the Leave campaign could have succeeded otherwise.
The Trump campaign is, I think, what happens when people who are isolationist because they worry about international competition for their jobs, or for their land, or for the culture of their nation, are lied to again and again. Mainstream movements imply that they will do something about it, but they don’t agree with the people whose votes they are courting, so they leave themselves wriggle-room; and after they’ve won, they wriggle like crazy.
The Leave campaign, led by a fairly cosmopolitan set of Tories such as Boris, have been guilty of just that. There is little doubt that many who voted to leave expected that the decision will dramatically change Britain’s approach to immigration and to economic protection, but in the days since the referendum, figures such as Johnson, Michael Gove, and Dan Hannan, have been scrambling to reassure that there will be very little change on either front. Economic integration will remain. So will freedom of movement.
Leave aside whether that can possibly be true (why would Europe allow all the benefits with none of the commitment?), and consider this: the statements of Johnson, Gove, and Hannan amount to a repudiation of a constituency whom they actively courted.
The attraction of Brexit to people like me (and I suspect, to people like Johnson) is that it frees the UK from control by the Brussels superstructure, a means of government vastly inferior to the one developed by the UK over aeons. There were always going to be costs that came with that. Even if, ultimately, the continued engagement of which Johnson assures us is obtained, the lack of certainty will mean that commercial actors will seek to move some of their operations from the UK to avoid the possibility that Johnson is wrong.
A truthful campaign on behalf of the “Leavers” would have asserted that the possibility of economic pain was worth it. The problem is, that sort of campaign is hard to win. Electoral research would have told them that if they couldn’t guess at it on their own.
There will have to be a reckoning in UK politics in the not-too-distant future. Brexit leaves open the real possibility of significant economic harm, especially to some of the constituencies that were so keen on it. They will be all the angrier, and they will still be told that the same problems are causing their pain: immigration and free trade. Only then, they will also be open to persuasion that the Leavers lied to them, and that they need a Trump figure.

Posted by Nick at 12:52 pm | Comments (2) |