Brendan O’Neill

Morrissey is right - Brexit really is magnificent

Morrissey is right - Brexit really is magnificent
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Being an out-and-proud Brexiteer, someone who would go to the barricades for Brexit, someone who might even take a bullet for Brexit, I often get emails from people who feel the same way but feel they can’t express their Brexitphilia in public. This week, in response to my Big Issue column on, yes, the beauty of Brexit, a correspondent tells me that, like me, he voted Leave for liberal, democratic reasons, not Little Englander ones, but such has been the ‘name-calling’ and ‘toxicity’ in response to his decision that he's had to slink off social media and keep his head down. It’s awful. Loads of Brexiteers feel like this — cautious, ashamed, ‘shy’ — and it’s largely down to the increasingly nasty Brexit-bashing in much of the media and the defamation of the Leave-loving demos as ‘low information’, foreigner-hating economy-wreckers.

So thank God for Morrissey — words I never thought I would write. This week, the former Smiths frontman described Brexit as ‘magnificent’. Yes, throwing his national-treasure status into serious jeopardy, risking the ire of his one-time teenage fans who’ve gone on to get cushy jobs in the more earnest, EU-adoring bits of the broadsheet and broadcast media, Morrissey said the Brexit result was not simply interesting or even good — it was magnificent. And it was magnificent, he said, because it showed that the public aren’t actually ‘hypnotised’ by BBC ‘nonsense’, and do not buy into the ‘myth of reality’ foisted on them by their know-betters, and rather can think for themselves. Yes Moz! These comments are the best thing he’s done since The Queen is Dead.

This isn’t the first time Morrissey has praised Brexit and slammed those who libel Leavers. In August, he said he was shocked by the flat-out refusal of much of the media ‘to be fair enough to accept the final decision of the people’ simply because ‘this decision does not suit the establishment’. He railed against the BBC for ‘persistently smear[ing] people who voted Leave’, who are now largely presented as ‘irresponsible, drunken racists’. He’s not wrong. Since Brexit Day, since that glorious moment when 17.4m Brits voted against an institution that has plunged the Greek working classes into poverty, imposed unelected technocratic rule on Italy, and horribly insulted the plebs of France, Holland and Ireland after they dared to vote against its treaties — and they call this institution progressive! — it’s been open season on Leavers. They’re being blamed for everything from economic chaos (where?) to a supposed rise in hatred to shortages of Marmite. Enough. Brexiteers, it’s time to stand up to these barbs and slurs, to this demosphobia, and say: ‘Brexit was magnificent.’

It was magnificent for three reasons. First because, as Moz says, it showed that ordinary people are not the thoughtless, nodding-dog imbibers of information from on high that too many in the political class think they are. So against the hectoring of big business (around 80 per cent of which wanted us to Remain), the pleas of the political elite (a large majority of MPs wanted Remain), and needy or menacing overtures from every influential institution on Earth, from the IMF to UN officials to the celebrity set, a majority of British voters basically said: ‘Nah, you’re all right.’ They listened to the stern warnings and puffed-up claims of the rich and powerful, weighed them up, and rejected them. I’m smiling just thinking about it. They thought for themselves. They used their own mental and moral muscles. They acted with independence and confidence. This was democracy in action, and it was magnificent.

The second reason Brexit was magnificent is because overnight it exploded the pretensions of all those who claim to be on the side of the little people but who we now know view the little people with naked contempt. It has shown that the Liberal Democrats are neither liberal nor democratic, with their leader now madly running on a ticket of thwarting Brexit. It confirmed that Labour has virtually no connection with people who actually labour, a vast swathe of whom rejected their party’s advice and voted Leave. And it ripped the veil of progressiveness from the face of much of the political set, revealing that these supposedly caring, pro-poor, liberal-minded souls are nothing of the sort and actually view much of England — especially those dodgy northern bits — as being inhabited by the gruffest, dumbest people imaginable. It gave us clarity on where people really stand politically, and that, too, is magnificent.

And the third, most obvious reason Brexit was magnificent is because it seriously dented the EU. I know we’re meant to think of the EU as a happy-clappy internationalist outfit, but some of us, including the ill-educated and less well-off, who can think for themselves, know that isn’t true. We know the EU is anti-democratic, illiberal, paternalistic and discriminatory (allowing migration for Europeans but not for non-Europeans); we know that it elevates the needs of the European Central Bank over the livelihoods of the Greek, Irish and other working classes, to the extent that it green-lights the severe reduction of the hard-earned pensions of Greece’s old folk. We know this institution is not progressive but foul, and we think Brexiteers’ blow against it is magnificent — truly magnificent.

So, Brexiteers, let’s stop being sheepish and shy. Be proud of what you have done. Je ne regrexit rien! Will there be some instability as a result of Brexit? Well, duh, of course. Every brave sucker punch in history delivered by the masses against the status quo has led to an era of uncertainty. But you know what? That uncertainty is magnificent, too, because it throws every dull political position in the air, upsets a party system that had become rusty through aloofness, and creates the space for a fresher, more engaged debate about the future, and about how politics really ought to be done in the 21st century. Oh Brexit, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.