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The commoners go off script


Be gone!
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.


Go, go, good countrymen, and for this fault
Assemble all the poor men of your sort,
Draw them to Tiber banks, and weep your tears
Into the channel, till the lowest stream
Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.

All the Commoners exit.

See whe’er their basest mettle be not moved.
They vanish tongue-tied in their guiltiness.
Go you down that way towards the Capitol.
This way will I. Disrobe the images
If you do find them decked with ceremonies.

The tribunes Marullus and Flavius confidently sent the rude mechanicals off with their tails between their legs in Act I Scene I of Julius Caesar. Their modern successors, lacking the power to have people sewn into a sack and thrown in the Tiber, are finding it a little more troublesome to bring about a suitable attitude of repentance in the populace.

“The Brexit Question Time’s audience backs up what our survey found: no regrets” is the slightly exaggerated headline of an article in the Guardian by Professor Anand Menon and Sophie Stowers of the academic think tank “UK in a Changing Europe”.

A majority of leavers feel they had all the information they needed to make a decision in 2016. And a plurality think that they had sufficient information from both sides of the referendum campaign to make an informed decision. What they resent is the fact that political leaders have not capitalised on the sovereignty for which they voted; 39% of them think politicians have not even tried to make Brexit work.

Yet while they are frustrated, leavers did not expect instant results. A quarter of them think not enough time has passed to judge whether Brexit has gone well or badly; 61% think Brexit will turn out well or very well in the future. There was a sense among those in the audience last night that they did not expect to wake up on 24 June 2016 in a whole different Britain. Rather, Brexit is an ongoing process that, while politicians have messed it up to date, still holds the promise of greater successes to come.

So, it should come as no surprise that many – including most of those in Clacton last night – still back the decision they made in 2016. In our survey, 72% of 2016 leave voters, knowing what they do now, would still vote as they did.

14 comments to The commoners go off script

  • Stuart Noyes

    I don’t think voters had anywhere near enough information about eu membership or leaving. All along the debate has focused on economic issues whereas the eu is primarily a political project to take over the functions of its members states.

  • Yet Another Chris

    I voted leave for the same reason most others did – I didn’t want to be ruled by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. Perhaps Julius Caesar, which I did for ‘O’ Level 55 years ago, is a cautionary tale for those who would lord it over us. It doesn’t end well – et tu Brute.

  • Patrick Crozier

    72% of those who voted Leave last time voting Leave (er, actually Remain as in remain independent) next time would not a victory make.

  • Kirk

    My take on the whole EU thing is that it might well be the first example of a multi-national coup conducted by diplomats/state bureaucrats against their home nations we’ve ever had in human history.

    As they never actually honestly laid out the implications of joining the EU, nor sought a plebiscite for the general public to do so…? Yeah. That ain’t gonna work out well, at all. The fact that the elites are cramming the whole project down the throats of the masses is going to be the rock that the whole effort founders on.

    I mean, think about it: Did the Dutch people get told that the EUeracrats in Brussels were going to be able to shut down their farms and decide who got to sell whose house to who? Where were those liberties and freedoms honestly and freely voted away off to Belgium?

    Outsiders looking in on the whole thing can see where it’s going to go down, and why. I’ll never understand what the hell the various minor nations thought they were going to get out of it all, when they essentially abandoned sovereignty to unelected and unaccountable bureaucratic drones in Brussels. This deal in Holland is only the bow wave of where it’s all going to go, because there’s zero mechanism in the EU machinery I can see for redress or ameliorating these policies. You have two options, either kowtow to the clowns in Brussels, or you start eating your politicians.

    I think I know which way everyone is going to go, and it won’t be the surrendering to fate route, either.

  • bobby b

    It seems to me that all of those countries joined the EU in the belief that it would work to their own advantage, delivering to them the riches of the other EU members.

    They forgot – or ignored – that they had their own riches for looting.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    It seems to me that all of those countries joined the EU in the belief that it would work to their own advantage

    With the exception of Germany, who in the immortal words of Sir Humphrey Appleby, joined to “apply for readmission into the human race.”

  • Kirk

    Anyone looking at the last few years of the EU who says the Germans were only applying for readmission to the human race needs to reexamine who the exact beneficiaries of the whole deal really were. It wasn’t the little countries, who watched their economies evaporate and move north, along with their industries.

    The real stupidity came in when the Germans decided on the Energiewende policies, which are killing the industrial backbone of the EU, along with the financial one. Every major industry in Germany has to move, because “energy”. That ain’t going to work out, over the long haul. Or, the short one.

    There are reasons the Germans are so bullish on moving defense industries into Ukraine. They’ve got no damn choice; the Ukrainians are likely the only growth region really accessible to them.

    Which makes me wonder about the machinations going on behind the scenes with the whole Ukraine/Russia thing. I start to suspect that we’re all being played, and that the Russians were double- or triple-crossed by German finance types. Watch what happens in the endgame of the war in Ukraine, as it all plays out over the next few weeks. I did not have “Wagner coup” on my bingo card, but I doubted that Russia would survive the war as it was on February 24, 2022.

    And, yes… As a former NATO soldier that sat on the IGB for a tour, I have a schadenboner right now. I think the next few weeks are going to be world-historical, as in one of those periods where everything gets all arrowy and broadly directional on all the maps…

  • FrankH

    I didn’t expect everything to change the next day but I did expect the Article 50 letter to be sent almost immediately, say by the end of June (OK, maybe July). Instead it took the government until the end of March 2017. That letter should have been written and ready to go. Didn’t anybody make ANY plans for a LEAVE vote?

  • DiscoveredJoys

    You could make an argument that the EU is a trade organisation run by Big Business for the sake of Big Business and the EU politicians and Commission are just the figureheads to lend some degree of cover. So expecting ‘our’ politicians to get on and implement Brexit properly is asking them to change the way of life they have become accustomed to. You could also argue that, at least in part, COVID was a trade opportunity run by Big Pharma for the sake of Big Pharma.

    And yet… recent news has shown that Big Business is vulnerable to boycott. We shouldn’t boycott our politicians for being useless but we should perhaps boycott the Big Businesses behind them.

  • Stuart Noyes


    No they didn’t.

  • Sam Duncan

    72% of 2016 leave voters, knowing what they do now, would still vote as they did.

    That few? And no, Patrick, it wouldn’t be enough if there was a rematch. It would depend on how many Remainers have realised it ain’t as bad as they were led to believe. Which is more than we’re led to believe, I expect.

    Didn’t anybody make ANY plans for a LEAVE vote?

    Probably not. They thought they were going to win. No, they “knew” they were going to win. The Authorities in this country live in the most closed echo-chamber imaginable when it comes to the EU. Remember: HMG, the Civil Service, the BBC, every single party with Members in Parliament and the devolved assemblies*, the CBI, the British Bankers’ Association, and even, for some reason, Nature came out in support of remaining. Talking amongst themselves, they had no idea that perhaps the biggest single complaint most of the country had with its government was membership of the EU, nor the strength of feeling behind it. Nobody any of them knew ever voted for that horrible little Farage fellow.

    Nah, they never made plans. Of course they didn’t.

    *Yes, Labour tried to prevaricate, but it wasn’t fooling anyone.

  • Steven R

    Oh, how I hope Russia has actual evidence that placed this whole Wagner thing squarely at the feet of the WEF and the KGB or GRU or whatever they are calling themselves this week just kills everything (excepting heads of states of course) at the next Davos meeting and let the world know they did it. Maybe go after the children and grandchildren of some of the bigger movers and shakers just to wipe their entire bloodlines off the face of the Earth just to send a message to the billionaires of the world to stay in their lane.

  • Paul Marks.

    George Orwell wondered why his fellow Collectivists so hated Britain and the British people – the true answer, that Collectivism is evil (that it is evil in principle – in its very essence) he did not see.

    The hatred of the Guardian, and the academics (those children of Plato), who associate with it, for both national independence and individual liberty, is the natural consequence of their Collectivism.

    It is also one of the ironies of history that future two Prime Ministers who voted for independence in 2016, Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak, have shown little interest in real deregulation or in the reduction of taxation, and the Prime Minister who did show real interest in deregulation and the reduction of taxation (Liz Truss), did not vote for independence in 2016.

  • Paul Marks.

    Legal independence from the European Union gives the opportunity for pro liberty, roll-back-the-state, policies to be followed (policies that are increasingly unlawful under the rule of the European Union), but it does not mean that such policies will be followed.

    Tragically of the Prime Ministers since the vote for independence in 2016 only one. Liz Truss, had much interest in a pro liberty agenda – the first Prime Minister after the 2016 vote, Mrs May, was actively hostile to liberty – Mrs May is a Big Government person.

    But if one does have a Prime Minister with a pro liberty agenda – they still have to face the great power of the Collectivist establishment, the Civil Service, the Bank of England, the vast Corporations (which depend on the funny money of the government and banks – and are joined at the hip in “partnership” with them) and-so-on.