Brendan O’Neill Brendan O’Neill

I’m a ‘Brexit extremist’ and proud of it

We used to think it was noble when people made sacrifices for their beliefs, when they were happy to endure hardship in the service of a political goal or moral cause. Now we call it ‘extremism’. Now anyone who is so devoted to an ideal that he’s willing to see his own daily comforts diminished to make that ideal a reality is likely to be branded a nutter. I mean, what kind of loon puts his beliefs ahead of his bank balance?

Consider the mouths-agape response to new YouGov research published yesterday, showing that many Leave voters are willing to pay a high price for Brexit. Judging from the lingo being used – YouGov calls these people ‘extremists’ and much of the press has murmured in agreement – you’d be forgiven for thinking Leavers were plotting suicide attacks or a violent purge of parliament to get shot of Remainers and Soft Brexiteers. In truth, all they’ve said is that they’d be cool with going through some economic difficulty if it means their democratic cry for Britain to split from Brussels is realised.

YouGov was startled to discover that, in its survey of 2,043 Leave voters, 61 per cent said ‘significant damage to the British economy’ is a ‘price worth paying’ to make Brexit happen. Twenty per cent said it was not a price worth paying, and 19 per cent are undecided. Cue screwed-up faces among a technocratic class that is deeply suspicious of passion in politics. Predictably, the Brexit-fearing sections of the Twitterati held up the survey as proof that the only thing Leavers have so far taken leave of is their sanity.

Even more deliciously – at least in the minds of those who think Brexit is a nasty, selfish, Little Englander assault on decency and future generations – the YouGov research found that the willingness to take an economic hit in the name of making Brexit happen increases with age.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in