Brendan O’Neill

Did Gary Lineker miss the first ‘people’s vote’ on Brexit?

Did Gary Lineker miss the first 'people's vote' on Brexit?
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Gary Lineker is coming to save Britain. From what, I hear you ask? From you. And me. And the rest of the dim-witted electorate who screwed up the nation with our pesky vote to leave the EU.

The football commentator turned crisps advertiser turned spokesman for the weeping Brexitphobic Twitterati has announced that he is backing the campaign for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. Why? Because the nation is in a ‘mess’, he says, and it’s all down to the fact that ‘politicians seem unable to resolve the problem the people gave them in voting Leave’. Got that? The problem isn’t useless politicians: it’s ordinary people and our catastrophic stupidity. Lineker wants to save Britain from Britons.

Lineker’s transition from the squarest man in football to the darling of liberals who are increasingly horrified by this whole democracy thing has been mad. One minute he’s woodenly describing goals on Match of the Day, the next he’s being held up as the voice of political reason in a nation gone berserk.

The anti-Brexit chattering classes adore him because they think he’s a man of the people. Well, he knows about football, and plebs like football, right? It is testament to their gaping separation from the views and concerns of your average Brit that they think this filthy-rich TV presenter ensconced in his BBC studio and firing off Guardianista tweets every five minutes might be able to make a connection with the public. I hope he does front the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign, alongside Eddie Izzard, with maybe a bit of Benedict Cumberbatch for good measure, because then Leave will win (again) by a country mile.

Lineker’s siding with the People’s Vote campaign in order to help solve ‘the problem’ of 17.4m people’s backing for Brexit is a good time to reflect on just how anti-democratic this stab for a second referendum is. ‘People’s Vote’ is such a cynical, slippery phrase. We had a People’s Vote. Two years ago. A massive one, in which turn-out shot up, sections of society that normally don’t vote came out to vote, and an historic 17.4m people — more people than have ever voted for anything in the entirety of British history — said: ‘Let’s leave the EU.’ It was the living, breathing definition of a People’s Vote, arguably the first meaningful People’s Vote Britain has ever held.

But in the eyes of the second-referendum set, it wasn’t really a People’s Vote. It was an exercise in brainwashing, where lies and slogans on buses and fearful blather about Turks swarming Europe were used to hoodwink the moronic masses into voting out of the EU. Because we are that stupid and gullible. And so we need a second referendum to give the ignoramuses an opportunity to correct their idiocy and give the ‘right’ answer this time. Which of course is that Britain should stay in the EU and ordinary Brits should stop disobeying their betters and know their place: which is at the bottom of the pile, with all the other little people, where our only political role is to vote once every four years and then go home and shut the hell up.

Labour MP David Lammy has praised Lineker has a ‘top man’ and congratulated him for being one of those people ‘prepared to stick their neck out and not pander to the “will of the people” bollocks’. The will-of-the-people bollocks — it’s called democracy, David. You know, the thing that got you into parliament. We should thank Lammy for his unguarded elitism, because it captures what lies in the rotten heart of the argument for a second referendum: a quite nasty outlook that views democracy as bollocks, the will of the people as a myth that must always be put in scare quotes, and the likes of Lineker as heroes because they might help to correct the collective hysteria of the throng whose opinions on the EU we stupidly solicited in June 2016.

‘The problem’ in British politics isn’t people’s desire to leave the EU — it is this haughty, arrogant belief that the people’s desires should be overridden by those who know better. Stick to the football, Gaz — you clearly know more about that than you do about democracy.