If the output of the Financial Times is anything to go by, the voices of the pro-European Union (EU) establishment are finally realising they are doing more to promote the case for Brexit, and risk losing the referendum.
Today the international business newspaper has published a long article conceding that the UK’s anti-EU insurgency is fuelled by a mistrust of the elite which has been building for decades.
The writer of the article followed one well-spoken Leave campaigner in the prosperous Berkshire town of Bracknell who “does not resemble a revolutionary in the least.” For him, she represents “millions of voters up and down the country” to whom the referendum “has brought home just how little faith they have in Britain’s politicians and parties, business lobbies and trade unions, think-tanks and investment banks.”
As the Remain camp begins to pull ahead in opinion polls it has become apparent that deference to authority, including to international voices like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and President Obama, has dwindled. As another Bracknell activist told the Financial Times, the referendum is “simply a vote against the establishment.”
He added: “It’s about the blatant lies. When the lies just keep on coming people say: how can I trust these people any longer?”
The author notes that the sentiment is neither limited to the UK (citing Donald Trump in the U.S. and populists of the left and right across Europe), nor a new phenomenon. However, referendum polling shows that trust, which “has eroded steadily over decades,” is now “alarmingly low”.
Professor Will Jennings, the Head of Department of Politics & International Relations at the University of Southampton, says materials such as diaries and letters collated by the UK’s Mass Observation Archive show people describing “their ‘hatred’ for politicians who made them ‘angry’, ‘incensed’, ‘outraged’, ‘disgusted’ and ‘sickened’.”
Other words Professor Jennings notes are arrogant, boorish, corrupt, creepy, devious, loathsome, lying, parasitical, pompous, shameful, sleazy, slippery, spineless, traitorous, weak and wet.
The newspaper says that in addition to the usual reasons, such as the well-documented abuses of parliamentary expenses, the breakdown in trust is caused by “the widening chasm between booming multicultural London (expected to back EU membership) and the more Eurosceptic rest of England. ”
He added: “Our parliamentary class is treated with contempt, so when the establishment says ‘vote for this, we know what is good for you’ that has little effect. And the same is true for the City of London. The financial services industry is pretty unpopular.”
For Brexit campaigners this generates a welcome side-effect, the more the Remain campaign relies on “expert” interventions, the more it hinders its cause.
With last-minute contributions expected this week from the IMF, and possibly even from the European Commission, the omens do not look good for the Remain campaign.