Brexit has morphed into more of a religion than a political ideology
Cameron’s ill-fated referendum announcement acted as starting pistol for a fanatical monolith of dissent, as the Brexit question has become not only about the country’s membership of the EU but about what it means to be British.
Belief acts as both the main driver and the structural foundation of religious movements. The same is true of one’s own personal religious faith. This system of belief can also be observed within the Brexit Party, and the wider movement by which it is fueled.
This movement is one of post-modernism which has consolidated its grip on British society, aided by a post-truth socio-political environment. Michael Gove’s 2016 claim that the British people ‘have had enough of experts’ has turned out to be extremely accurate, as social media bubbles have ensured that everyone is now self-confessed experts in the field of international economics and complex trade negotiations. Warnings and statistics from incredibly experienced organisations and individuals from in that field are now being dismissed in favour of nationalistic belief in pursuit of a lost imagined British halcyon.
Whenever Mark Carney, Laura Kuenssberg or Philip Hammond and others utter any warning about potential and already existing ill effects due to Brexit, they suffer an immediate Twitter backlash suggesting that they are merely cogs within the massive machine of ‘project fear’. This has been embraced as a go-to phrase when dismissing people with realistic predictions and expectations as evil, unpatriotic naysayers.
This immediate, instinctive and synaptic dismissal of legitimate criticism obtained via tried and tested means due to a deep seated belief is done with the same ferocity, fear and passion as the rejection of Galileo’s observations by the Catholic Church in the 17th century. Even they have now adapted to evolutionary science to some extent, and adapted their theory of creationism. The ‘Catholic Answers’ website reads:
Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that, if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him.
Whereas, post-modernist intransigence often shows no sign of shifting, as feeling consistently proves more powerful then logic in today’s political discourse. People are deemed incorrect without even speaking and are branded as Leavers, Remainers, Liberals, Muslims, Snowflakes, and Galmon. The Daily Mail, for example, labelled neighbours calling the police after disturbances at Boris Johnson’s home Remainers in an to bring their observations and accusations into disrepute. Galileo, of course, was immediately branded a heretic to the same effect.
The same is true in regard to news outlets, as Brexit only forms part of wider post-modernist religion. Beth Rigby, for example, was recently at booed and shouted down at Boris Johnson’s leadership bid launch for bringing up his past offensive language, failed promises and untrustworthiness amongst ex-colleagues. This represents a worrying parallel to the demonising of the press in the US who Trump has branded ‘enemies of the people’.
This sentiment is exacerbated by an ever growing amount of people preferring to obtain to be informed by their Facebook feeds rather than a ‘bias’ Sky News or BBC. One Conservative member even asked Jeremy Hunt at a recent husting what he would do to reform the BBC in order to make it less bias against Brexit. There are also, of course, similar complaints from the left in relation to the coverage of Jeremy Corbyn, something the BBC and Sky have used to argue that they are in fact a balanced source of information.
The Brexit and Trumpian movements share this rancorous resentment of the press, accompanied with an antipathy towards the political classes. Trump judged them as responsible for ‘American carnage’ during his inauguration speech in 2016, and they have been judged to be traitors by British Brexit advocates for botching negotiations and delaying Brexit past the March 2019 deadline. Farage even called Westminster ‘enemy territory’ at a protest in Parliament Square on the day of this missed deadline.
He also speaks of a great betrayal of the referendum decision of 2016, preying on the current entrenchment of opinions by those bothering to still expose themselves to this toxic and febrile ideological civil war. The British population is divided to a degree not seen since perhaps the Civil Wars or the wets and the dries of 80s Thatcherism. Friends and families are split, and there seems to be a cultural division along the lines of age, as a positive correlation between age and the likelihood of wanting a No Deal Brexit.
The nationwide feeling of post-truth and Brexit frustration has now found an influential – and well-funded – outlet. On the 30th June, the NEC hosted a massive rally for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. Dubbed the ‘Big Vision Rally’ it was attended by large swathes of local supporters, itching to get a glimpse at their glorious leader, who was introduced with a loud and proud air raid siren (a manifestation of the War inferences and jingoistic reminders of the supposed Blitz spirit by Johnson, Francois and others). This was shortly before Brexit MPs turning their backs on the European anthem and Ann Widdecombe comparing Britons to slaves under the ownership of EU masters.
Belief and an unrelenting feeling of rectitude, betrayal and chagrin has blinded those attending rallies to the fact that Farage is a career politician, one of the very ‘political elites’ who he peddles disdain against. This is very similar to Trump being born into an elite social status whilst falsely portraying himself as a self-made man of the people.
The travesty is indeed in the irony. Those who voted to leave, including those 63% of Tory members who would now prefer Scotland leaving the union in exchange for Brexit rather than no Brexit at all, to did so because of a genuine belief that it would improve their lives after being convinced by what seemed to be legitimate points during the referendum campaign. In fact, it will prove to only speed up the country’s Post War decline, as Britain is now seen as a once reputable and dignified nation gone barmy; inflicting unnecessary economic and political harm upon itself in the pursuit of an imagined idyll of a more powerful Britain of time gone by.