Brexit didn’t create this crisis in our politics. It exposed them

Boris Johnson the day after the EU referendum vote, which his leave campaign won.

Boris Johnson the day after the EU referendum vote, which his leave campaign won. Photograph: Reuters

One week ago, against the advice of its political establishment, Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union. Within a few days, that establishment was in the process of a full-scale implosion: the country is effectively without government or opposition, shorn of leadership, bereft of direction. As the pound crashed and markets tanked, the chancellor of the exchequer went missing for three days while Boris Johnson, the most prominent member of the Leave campaign, spent the weekend not sketching out a plan for the nation’s future, but playing cricket and writing his column for the Telegraph. Having asserted its right to sovereignty, the country can now find nobody to actually run it.

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After this vote the UK is diminished, our politics poisoned

A London Black taxi driver flies a British flag as he drives through a street in central London

â??Britain is no more sovereign today than it was yesterday. We have left the EU but we remain within the neoliberal system.â??
Photograph: Hannah Mckay/EPA

In the end those who placed their faith in the â??expertsâ? were always going to be disappointed. The pollsters were wrong; the currency traders were wrong; the pundits were confounded. People who did not feel they had been heard have not just spoken. Given a one-off chance to tell the world what they think of how they are governed they have screamed a piercing cry of alienation and desperation.

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For 50 years our political class avoided a genuine debate on immigration. Now it’s paying the price

‘The Tories brazenly stoke popular prejudice, while Labour cravenly submits to it (see Ed Miliband’s mug).’

“The Tories brazenly stoke popular prejudice, while Labour cravenly submits to it (see Ed Miliband’s mug).”
Photograph: Labour

During the 1964 election Harold Wilson spent a day campaigning in London marginals, addressing crowds from the back of a lorry. Invariably he would be harangued by bigots demanding the repatriation of nonwhite people. Wilson faced the hecklers down. “Whom should we send home? The nurses in our hospitals? The people who drive our buses. Where would our health service be without the black workers who keep it going?” According to the late Paul Foot: “These questions were greeted with great roars of approval from the crowd, and the hecklers were silenced.”

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