Now There Will Always Be an England

The tenor—and temper—of the debate leading up to the British referendum on the United Kingdom’s continued membership in the European Union on June 23 hardly suggested the rhetorical and emotional violence of the response by the proponents of Remain to their substantial defeat by a margin of 52 to 48—a figure some of them pounced upon as being, politically and morally, an insufficient mandate for so monumental a decision, though any democratic politician today would be thrilled by the four-percent spread.  The explanation for this reaction, to which the journalistically overworked adjective hysterical seems aptly to apply, is, of course, that the will of “the wrong people”—the less wealthy, less educated, less sophisticated and cosmopolitan, more provincial and rural, and above all, older ones—prevailed over that of the more elite classes.  That is simply not supposed to happen in an advanced Western “democracy” today, which is why Leave’s victory was as unexpected as it was unwelcome to its opponents.

Tony Blair, the former Labour prime minister, wrote a furious piece for the New York Times in which he said (referring to the success of right-wing “populist” parties in Europe) that we know now “it can happen here” because it has, owing to an alliance between the “far right” and the “far left,”...

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