To Believe in Brexit, You Have to Be an Oik like Me or Michael Gove

Just as with Thatcherism, it’s the very posh who won’t stand firm.

If you need to know how properly posh you are there’s a very simple test: are you pro- or anti-Brexit?

Until the European referendum campaign got going, I thought it was a no–brainer which side all smart friends would take. They’d be for ‘out’, obviously, for a number of reasons: healthy suspicion of foreigners, ingrained national pride, unwillingness to be ruled by Germans having so recently won family DSOs defeating them, and so on.

What I also factored in is that these people aren’t stupid. I’m not talking about Tim Nice-But-Dims here. I mean distinguished parliamentarians, captains of industry, City whiz-kids, high-level professionals: the kind of people who read the small print, sift the evidence and take a considered view. I’ve yet to hear a single argument in favour of the EU that stands up to the most cursory scrutiny. Hence my confidence that these clever, talented, brilliant thinkers would know which way to go. The Gove way; the Boris way. How could they not?

So there I was at dinner the other evening with a delightful, erudite Old Etonian friend of mine. Let us call him ‘Kevin’ (not his real name). Kevin has an accent so deliciously plummy that if you could somehow tin it and sell it to the Chinese you’d become a billionaire. He is immensely cultured, civilised, wise and sensitive. I agree with him on everything, so naturally, when I asked him his views on Brexit and he launched into his eloquent diatribe on why he believed — and long had done — that the EU was the Abomination of Desolation, I listened in a state of near-ecstasy.

Kevin’s beautifully modulated speech went on for at least ten minutes. (There was hardly a shortage of material.) Then, suddenly, something weird happened. About 30 seconds before the end, Kevin shifted tack, and explained (or actually, hardly explained at all) that for all these reasons the only logical position was for Britain to remain in EU. Something to do with Europe being a lovely place and our having a moral duty to help it set the tone, I think.

Well I wish Kevin were the exception, but this has not been my experience. Most of my similarly rarefied friends turn out to be un-apologetic ‘remainers’. For further evidence of this, see also Sir Nicholas-Soames — who recently assured us that voting to remain is what his grandfather Winston Churchill would have done; Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, who promoted his Europhile views in the letters pages of the Financial Times via a high-minded personal attack on Boris Johnson; and those previously Eurosceptic Conservative MPs who have decided, on second thoughts, to vote with the Prime Minister: a significantly higher proportion of them were privately educated than among the Tories campaigning for ‘leave’, who tend to be of a more below-the-salt grammar, state or minor-minor independent school persuasion, such as Chris Grayling, Steve Baker and, of course, Michael ‘Oiky’ Gove.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

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