Brendan O’Neill

Ignore the Brexit day party poopers – it’s time to celebrate

Ignore the Brexit day party poopers – it's time to celebrate
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Don’t gloat. Don’t be too triumphalist. Don’t wave your flags too boisterously. Don’t say or do anything that might offend sad, pained Remainers, who will be huddled in their homes, looking with bemusement and concern upon the terrible new world that will be born at 11pm tonight.

All of these warnings are being issued to Leavers today as we gear up for our Brexit Day celebrations. Be humble, we’re told. Be magnanimous. Be quiet.

And the party-pooping isn’t only coming from Europhiles who think the end of our membership of the EU is tantamount to the End of Days.

Like London mayor Sadiq Khan, who has expressed concern that after Brexit Day we might see a rise in xenophobic hate crimes.

Yes, that’s right, Sadiq: us Leavers are a racist pogrom in waiting, just one Nigel Farage speech away from becoming deranged lunatics. Seriously, mate, give it a rest. Can’t you go one day without calling us racist?

No, even Brexiteers are calling for subdued, timid celebrations.

Good egg and ERG stalwart Steve Baker has party-shamed his fellow Leavers by saying he will quietly raise a glass to Brexit in the privacy of his own home rather than whooping and cheering in the streets, because he doesn’t want to upset people who voted Remain.

This is all getting on my wick. I’m going to be honest: I want to gloat. Just for one day. Just for a couple of hours, in fact. I want to cheer the triumph of Brexit, bellow my delight that we won, and celebrate — loudly and colourfully — our hard-won leaving of the EU.

There are two irritating things about the Brexit Day party-pooping. The first is the sheer gall of those Remain campaigners who are telling us to be nice and quiet and respectful of those who disagree with us.

Pot, kettle, black! For three-and-a-half years hardcore Remain activists — not, it must always be stated, ordinary, good Remain voters — paraded through the streets like an army of sanctimony.

They waved their EU flags like mad. They painted their faces blue and yellow. Emily Thornberry wore an actual EU dress.

They waved placards declaring their intellectual and moral superiority to the dim throng. Placards boasting of how good they were at grammar in comparison with us. Placards telling us that newspapers and demagogues and Russian bots brainwashed us muppets into voting for Brexit. Placards moaning about ‘BREXSHIT’.

To say these processions lacked decorum is an understatement of epic proportion. They were mass, noisy displays of middle-class arrogance.

They were expressions, in fact, of what the great Barbara Castle described in the 1970s as ‘Euro-jingoism’ — the belief among intellectuals and the political class that being pro-European made them superior to many of their own fellow citizens and also to other continents. (Witness Europhiles’ disdain for America and its chlorinated chicken today, for example.)

That was always the great irony of hardcore Remainerism (not Remain voters!): its adherents constantly referred to Leavers as jingoists, but they themselves engaged in some of the habits of jingoism. They often expressed the moral chauvinism that is a core component of jingoism more than Leavers did.

And the second irritating thing about the attempt to suppress Brexiteers’ strength of feeling on this historic day is that it fails to see what is really being celebrated today: democracy.

Look, I don’t really want to gloat. Well, not for very long. I certainly do not want to gloat over Remain voters: I have friends and family members who voted Remain. Good people. (Wrong about the EU, but good people nonetheless.)

But I do want to revel in the triumph of Brexit. In the victory of this tough battle to ensure the enactment of the largest democratic vote in UK history. In the victory of the voices of ordinary people over the stubborn Brexit-blocking of an establishment that doesn’t understand those people or like them very much.

That is really worth celebrating — with flags and cheers and music and dancing. The works. If it offends you, don’t worry — you’ll get over it.

Humility, they’re calling for. Humility is a ‘low view of one’s own importance’. Hell, no. Today is a celebration precisely of our importance. Of the importance of ordinary people against an establishment that told us we were too thick and prejudiced to make big political decisions about the future of the UK.

Brexit is the masses saying: ‘We’re important. We matter. Our votes matter.’ Save your humility for church. Today, celebrate your importance, the importance of your vote, and the importance of ensuring that democratic votes are always upheld.

Written byBrendan O’Neill

Brendan O’Neill is the editor of Spiked and a columnist for The Australian and The Big Issue.

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