A good education is a ticket in life. Graduation at a prestigious university followed by a professional career, all the hard work rewarded with a steadily rising salary, a nice home and exotic holidays. But material wealth isn't everything. The privileged middle class assumes moral superiority, as expressed in values such as 'no borders', the fads of identity politics, and worshipping the EU.
So ardently are these positions held, that they become not rationally formed arguments, but matters of secular faith. The more educated one is, the more one is able to defend a stance. Intellect is sharpened by devil's advocacy in the school debating society, followed by study and practice in esoteric disciplines such as medicine and law. With an authoritative tone, one is more able to prevail in contractual or political disputes. Lesser mortals can observe, but only the elite can explain, using their powers of judgment. Experts, eh?
The EU referendum campaign and aftermath exposed the flawed thinking of the intelligentsia. As Nick Timothy observed in the Telegraph, they fail to understand national identity, local community bonds and the need for cultural security. Instead they believe in 'a universal, harmonised civilisation'. Brexit was a slap in the face to this idealism, and people who voted for British sovereignty are persistently cast as backward bigots. Despite the large majority for Boris Johnson's 'get Brexit done' government, leading to Britain leaving the EU on 31st January 2020, a vociferous Remain rearguard continues its campaign on campus.
Boris appeals for citizens to drop their identities of Leavers and Remainers. Coming together is vital if we are to make a success of a new chapter in British history. To some extent, this has been happening since the verdict on 24th June 2016. The majority of the 16.1 million who voted Remain respected democracy. But a substantial and influential number did everything they could in an ultimately futile bid to overturn the will of the people (let us not forget how close they came to succeeding).
Since official Brexit day last week, the calls for reconciliation have been heeded on both sides. While refraining from triumphalism, Leavers can feel satisfied, while most Remain voters won't waste any more energy on a lost cause. However, some hard-core Europhiles, concentrated in our leading universities, are too invested in their 'EU good, Brexit bad' narrative to relent. The minds of the intelligentsia have hardened. They insist that they are right and the Brexiteers wrong, and earnestly await evidence of the UK getting its just deserts.
As economic indicators have stubbornly failed to validate the prophecies of doom, the main theme of Continuity Remain is cultural. Britain has drawn in on itself, rejecting progress for a nostalgic regression to outdated traditions and prejudices of Little Englanders. An obnoxious article by Tom Peck in the Independent, titled 'Parliament Square was a knuckle-dragging carnival of irredeemable stupidity', was widely shared on the Twitter accounts of university staff. Peck was in no mood to celebrate with the thousands of disgustingly patriotic revellers: -
'Come together? Sorry, but no thanks. The long walk back to sanity starts now. Who knows, it might even be a surprisingly short one.'
On the first day of Britain's newfound freedom, the BBC and other Remain-biased media found an ideal story in the not very salubrious setting of Winchester Tower, a grey council block in Norwich. 'Happy Brexit Day' notices had been stuck on all 15 floors, ordering people to speak English or go home (I suspect dirty work by Remainers, as the message fulfilled all of their fantasies about white working class Leave voters). Here was proof that Brexit is not only associated with racism, but is defined by it. Professor Martin McKee of The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who has used the word 'stupid' in almost every tweet since 31st January, remarked: -
'Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations. Or hatred, xenophobia, and racism? It seems #Brexit is unleashing the latter. Sickening.'
After spending four years arguing that we are stronger together in the EU, academic Remainers are now urging the dismantling of the United Kingdom, though their support for Scottish independence. The irony is lost on these reactionaries.
Founder of @Scientists4EU and @NHSforPV, Mike Galsworthy of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (is there something in the water there?) is now promoting Rejoin, while continuing to tweet spurious evidence that Leavers are a tainted stock – for example, they deny the climate change crisis. But maybe they are less likely to mistake ideological group-think for fact. As a scholar myself, I find more critical thinking among the common people than in our high seats of learning.
Soon after we left the EU, a Times letters page was headed 'Brexit and healing', but the chosen correspondence hardly showed willingness to compromise. One professor warned Leavers that they'll lose their jobs, while Michael Paulsom, senior lecturer at Manchester Law School, described Brexit as a 'toddlers' tantrum'.
If anyone is childish, it's intransigent academic Remainers. In my experience, their case for staying in the EU was more emotive than reasoned. Try asking them how the EU works: name the new commissioners, explain the annual decant to Strasbourg, or more importantly how laws are made, and you get vague if not clueless answers.
The Remain resistance has degenerated into pathetic sentimentalism. 'Look after our star, we'll be back to claim it', is their latest slogan, pleading with unelected Eurocrats (now a foreign power) to let us back in. The EU cult persists in the corridors of the academy, while the world has moved on. The smaller their number, the greater their fervour. The fewer listeners, the louder they shout. Is it too soon to take pity on them?