The passing of traditions

Photo: Ben Kirby. Courtesy of Pexels

Whatever Happened To Tradition?

History, Belonging and the Future of the West

Tim Stanley, Bloomsbury Continuum, October 2021, 272 pages, £20

KEN BELL finds that banished traditions can come back in new ways

The central theme of Tim Stanley’s Whatever Happened to Tradition is that tradition in the West has been demolished by its great enemies of liberalism and enlightenment. That is not to say that enlightened men cannot also be conservative and traditionalist – and Stanley doesn’t claim that – rather that liberal, enlightened values are so dominant that they have taken over for the present their conservative opponents. Thus, writes Stanley, “Conservatives, most already economically liberal, have become more socially liberal; the left, most already socially liberal have become more economically liberal.”

So what we have in the West is not a debate between liberals and conservatives, but rather a managerial dispute as to which faction can increase the size of the state to better meet the demands of the populace. This is made worse by the fact that the elites “keep cocking things up,” which they do time and time again as we may be reminded in the winter of 2023 when we undergo power cuts.

Time was when the growing and increasingly authoritarian state would have been opposed by Tories who drew their inspiration from the ideals of the ‘freeborn Englishman’, with his pot of beer and his plate of roast beef. However, today’s Tories are just as much opposed to those notions of responsible individualism in an ordered society as any liberal New-Labourite. One can make a good, Tory position out of support for the miners during the Great Strike of 1984/85. Stanley reminds us that the miners were men who were not fighting to overthrow the established order. Instead what they wanted was to defend their position within that order; a position that involved decent pay and conditions backed up by a strong union. An old-style Conservative could hardly argue against the mines on the basis of economics, especially when the foundations of his beliefs are the monarchy, the Anglican Church, and the legitimacy of the established order. Few of those will bear close scrutiny from an accountant with a balance sheet.

Yet, the Tories are a pragmatic bunch as evidenced by their wholehearted acceptance of what used to be called the Gay Liberation Movement. When I was a young man, the homosexualists allied themselves with the broader Labour movement. We tolerated their predilections, and they took on board our view of how the economy should be run. It was the perfect alliance, with both sides getting something out of the deal. But by the end of the last century, the radical gay pride events had run their course and were attracting fewer and fewer supporters each year. This was especially true in London where the Pride Festival organisers found themselves at the door to the poorhouse. Corporate capitalism came to the rescue and transformed “a protest into a party endorsed by Tesco and Lloyds Bank… nowadays there are probably more middle-class heterosexuals at Pride than gays or lesbians.” Given that the Tories were only recently the party that introduced legislation that banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools, their transformation is a sight to behold.

It is also a very traditional Tory path to take. The party’s aim is the maintenance of the socio-economic status quo: everything else is just tactics. So, the Tories can ditch the anti-homosexualism and a few voters amongst the lower-middle-class in places like Nuneaton, and become pro-homosexual and get votes in Putney. Furthermore, a liberal line on gays does not cost money, unlike, say, levelling-up.

Tim Stanley does give traditionalists some glimmers of hope for a radical future, one coming from a very unexpected quarter. Fox hunting was a pastime of the old established order and was on its deathbed until New Labour gave it a boost by banning it. Hunts began to set their hounds to chase scents laid on the ground, which sounds rather desperate at first glance. However, the hunts became a focus of rural opposition to everything that rural people felt was wrong with the society at large. So thousands began to turn out to support their local hunt, with numbers increasing as urban people decided to go and support this traditional event.

The end result was the metamorphosis of the hunt from a minority interest to a mass event with an overtly political character. Hunt masters became the staunchest of Brexiteers and often provided the leadership for the Brexit campaign in their areas. Tim Stanley is surely correct when he speculates that all traditional values need is a little bit of state repression to give them a new lease on life.

The life (and luck) of Nigel

Photo: Gage Skidmore. Wikimedia Commons

One Party After Another: The Disruptive Life of Nigel Farage

Michael Crick, Simon & Schuster, 2022, 606 pages, £25

KEN BELL reflects on the career of Brexit’s cheeky chappie

Many of the people involved in the Brexit debate will merit footnotes in the histories of the period that have yet to be written. Nigel Farage, on the other hand, will have whole volumes dedicated to him, and Michael Crick’s biographymarks a worthy first contribution to the many that will arrive down the decades to come.

Farage is without doubt the most successful politician of our times. He did more than virtually anyone else to get the United Kingdom out of the European Union, and so has succeeded in all his political aims. He is also the luckiest. How much his success owes to pure chance is something for future historians to debate, but reading Crick’s work it is hard to argue with the notion that Farage was incredibly lucky with the opponents that he was given.

UKIP, the party he came to dominate, was founded in 1993 and would have probably remained a fringe outfit that would have been lucky if it had ever won a clutch of council seats. But then Tony Blair and Paddy Ashdown came together, to provide the party, and Farage, with their first big break.

Prior to the 1997 general election, both Blair and Ashdown had discussed ‘The Project’, a plan to combine Blair’s Labour with Ashdown’s Liberal Democrats. But once Blair won his massive majority in 1997, he reneged on most of that, which left his erstwhile partner desperate to avoid being left completely out in the cold. Crick notes, ‘Ashdown fought to ensure that as a kind of consolation prize he at least got Blair to stick to his public pledge of PR [proportional representation] for the European elections of 1999.’ Blair tossed him that particular bone, but this also meant that minor parties now had a chance to gain seats.

UKIP took three seats in 1999, and came close in a clutch of others. It must be chastening for a Liberal Democrat to realise that had that election not been fought with PR, then the party would not have won any seats, and would probably have contented itself with another one of its internal rows that activists loved and real people hated. UKIP could quite possibly have split into its various factions, and the whole EU debate would have been held back for another generation.

One of the newly minted MEPs was Nigel Farage and given that UKIP had now gone from being a fringe outfit to a serious political party, invitations to appear on television came thick and fast. Farage could be relied upon to get his party’s supporters cheering at the TV, and at the same time enrage his party’s opponents. It made for perfect television, so Farage became almost overnight the household name he remains today. Again, luck played its part as the ‘Cavalier’ Farage was surrounded in UKIP by some pretty gruesome ‘Roundheads’ whom nobody sane would want anywhere near a television studio, representing the party or anything else.

Farage’s womanising activities are awarded a chapter all to themselves, which they deserve as Farage is an enthusiastic swordsman. However, I was struck with just how disapproving his ‘Kipper’ colleagues were with his women, and his carousing in general. Farage clearly enjoyed himself hugely in Brussels and that left his opponents looking even more gammon-like than usual. As he left to take up his seat in Brussels, a journalist asked if he was worried that he might become corrupted by the ‘lunches, dinners, champagne receptions’ and the like, to which Farage replied: ‘No, I’ve always lived like that.’

Anyone who has met Farage will recognise at once that he is very introverted. I met him once in 2013 after he had raised the roof at a rally. I asked him to agree to have his photo taken with me and he quite grumpily replied, ‘Yes, alright,’ before taking my hand and going into full grin-mode for the camera. As soon as it was over he scampered off before anyone else he didn’t know could talk to him. As an introvert myself, I knew immediately how difficult it must be for Farage to interact with strangers in any un-staged environment.

The author and Nigel Farage in 2013

Fast forward to 2019. In the run-up to the European elections, Farage came to address a monster rally in Edinburgh. I was one of the activists who were told to hang around after the event to go backstage and meet Farage. The idea was a bit of ego-stroking for us from the leader, with a few photos to show to our friends and handshakes all round. Instead, Farage left as soon as he walked off stage, which left a group of about a dozen people feeling very miffed indeed. Politicians know that a short pep talk to their senior activists is a big ingredient of any campaign dish. The politician tells the activists how important they are, mentions a few by name, before having the photos taken and then scampering off to the next campaign stop.

Farage broke that rule as he broke so many other rules of the political game. He got away with it partly because of his incredible luck, but also because for us it was always about campaigning to get Britain out of the EU, and nothing more. Nigel Farage, with his beer, his cigarettes, his women and cheeky grin, was the symbol of that but never its organiser.

Brexit blindness

Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain

Fintan O’Toole, Head of Zeus, 2019

Three Years in Hell: The Brexit Chronicles

Fintan O’Toole, Head of Zeus, 2020

KEN BELL says a prominent Remainer still doesn’t comprehend Brexit

I have just finished reading Heroic Failure and Three Years In Hell, both by Fintan O’Toole, which is good for you as it means you don’t have to. I was attracted to these volumes by the fact that O’Toole as an Irishman might bring something new to the pro-EU debate, but unfortunately all he does is regurgitate lines British writers have already done to death.

Three Years In Hell is the lesser volume, and the easiest to dismiss, since it is essentially a diary covering dates in the years 2016 to 2019. Most of the entries became moot once Boris Johnson took over, so the entries that deal with Theresa May are little more than space fillers. Much is made in both books of the supposed fact that Brexit was an ‘English revolution’ – an engagingly off-the-wall line the Guardian emits regularly.

In the first place, the Brexit plebiscite was specifically set up as an all-UK vote. That is why Nicola Sturgeon could scamper off to campaign for ‘Remain’ in southern England. Now, you cannot have an all-UK vote and then dismiss its results because you come from an area that ended up on the losing side. Well, you can, if you are Nicola Sturgeon, but that does not mean that the rest of us have to take your whining seriously. That applies to writers as well as politicians, by the way.

Secondly, and this is where the much longer Heroic Failure takes over, to dismiss the Brexit vote as being a purely English victory when proportionally as many Welsh voters supported Brexit is to dismiss the people of Wales with an airy wave of the hand, which is what O’Toole does repeatedly. Not just Wales, either – pretty much anyone who is not part of the Guardian-reading metropolitan bubble is only referred to in passing. Thus, when discussing the makeup of the Brexit vote, he makes great play of the English middle class component and tries to slight the much larger working class element by saying that a majority of them were working class Conservative voters already! That may be the case, but it only leads us to a question of why did people who had historically voted Labour decide to switch parties, something which started to happen in 1997? It may be that Labour has changed and they haven’t. O’Toole does not even raise that theme in his books, being content to dismiss working class Brexiteers as people engaged in an act of self-harm.

A whole chapter of Heroic Failure is devoted to Boris Johnson’s journalistic pieces devoted to mocking the EU, with O’Toole then pointing out the errors and, by implication, the stupidity of the plebs who believed those tales.  This theme is not original to O’Toole, but it is what his readers believe, just as Boris’s believed his lines about prawn-flavoured crisps. Actually, Boris was on fairly solid ground with his EU reports, because even if he got some details wrong, there was a greater truth that he got right. When we joined the European Economic Community we were told that it was a big trading bloc and nothing that it did would ever affect us in any way. It was all about trade, nothing more.

Then we noticed that local council jobsworths were giving grief to market traders who wanted to sell their produce in pounds and ounces. We noticed that our children were coming home from school and talking about heat in Celsius and distance in metres. We battled to keep beer and milk in pints and road markings in miles, but in our hearts we knew that all we had bought was time, and that the jobsworths were just licking their lips at the thought of earning a tasty butty as they forced us to think the European way.

This brings me close to the end, with O’Toole convinced that the Brexit vote was due in no small measure to a desire to recreate the British Empire. It wasn’t, of course. It was a desire by millions of people, many of whom had never voted before and probably haven’t since, to be allowed to live their lives as they wanted under the jurisdiction of politicians who may be dubious characters – but they are our dubious characters and we can get rid of them every four or five years if we are bored with their faces. The EU may not really have instructed its provincial legislatures to enact laws against prawn-flavoured crisps, but the story illustrated a great truth that Brussels did order Westminster around on many issues, and Westminster did duly enact the legislation as instructed.

One day a pro-Brussels writer will investigate the mindset of the British people who voted freedom’s way, and a light will come on in his mind. He can then pass this information on to his readers, and his side will finally start to come to terms with the reasons for their defeat. Alas, Fintan O’Toole is not that writer.

A realm apart – why Brexit happened


This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe

Robert Tombs, Allen Lane, 224 pages, £11.22

KEN BELL praises an exceptionally historically-informed Brexit explainer

The small numbers who read the Guardian will no doubt disagree, but the argument over Brexit is now as much a part of history as the Free Trade debate that dominated life in the 19th century. As such, Robert Tombs in This Sovereign Isle has written the first of the many volumes that will dominate the reading lists for student historians. Luckily for the public at large, the book is also eminently accessible to the general reader as well, so I predict that this volume will go through many editions in the years to come.

Although Tombs never falls into the trap of arguing that Brexit was inevitable, he does make the point that for the British, membership of the EU was always a transactional issue and not an emotional one. Thus, when the downside of membership began to tell, there was no emotional appeal that could be made by the other side to try and even the balance. The Remainers lacked an Abraham Lincoln who could deliver a Gettysburg Address, because their side of the debate was just as transactional as that of the Brexiteers. Thus they were forced to rely on an increasingly hysterical version of the ‘Project Fear’ that had helped win the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The problem in 2016 was that people just didn’t believe the howls, which allowed Boris Johnson to ask mockingly which catastrophe would come first, the world war or the economic collapse.

For the British, membership of the EU was always a transactional issue and not an emotional one

To be fair, as Tombs argues, Brexit was certainly helped over the line by the fact that the UK had managed to stay out of the Euro. Had we joined that common currency, the UK would have been in a similar position to the Scotland of 2014 and it is quite likely that Remain would have won. As it was, the result was close enough to argue that ‘Project Fear’ had a considerable effect on the final tallies.

On the other side of the English Channel, the Euro certainly helps keep difficult countries in line, as the EU demonstrated against the Greeks when it looked as if they were about to strike out for freedom. The mafia type threat: Nice economy you have here – be a shame if something happened to it, may very well be the one issue that keeps such countries voting the right way. Or to carry on voting until they get to the right way according to Brussels. That threat could not be used against the UK, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Gordon Brown for keeping us out of the Euro’s clutches.

Staying in Europe for a moment, Tombs makes the point that most of those countries were desperate to draw a line under their immediate pasts. The original six had the memories of defeat in the Second World War and political systems that had become illegitimate in the eyes of the populations. Later on, the post-Cold War entrants wanted to forget all about their Soviet experiences and similarly had discredited systems that needed to be put out of their misery. The EU for all those countries was in large part a stab at legitimacy and an exercise in forgetting the recent past.

The UK by way of contrast emerged from the two World Wars on the victorious side, with a legitimate political system intact. Thus roughly half the Brexiteers who were asked to give a single reason for their vote, answered that they wanted Britain to govern itself. They were able to say that because they had confidence in the British parliamentary system. It really was as simple as that.

The Remainers never seemed to understand that desire and so they discounted it as a factor. To them the Brexiteers were a caricature that they had created in their own minds and then decided that it represented the reality of their opponents. We were uneducated, old and we hankered after the British Empire, when actually, as Tombs shows, we just wanted to govern ourselves. Nevertheless, that mistake, which came about because Remainers tended to be concentrated in particular parts of the country where they did not come into day to day contact with Brexiteers, led them to overestimate their own numbers, and underestimate the need to get their vote out. As Sasha, Lady Swire, noted in her Diary of an MP’s Wife ( when her daughter called her as the results came in and complained that “white van man” had stolen her future, the result might have been different had the darling girl got her friends out of bed and chivvied them along to the polling stations.

One area that the author really should have been expanded upon was the 2017-2019 period that I think history will call the Rogue Parliament. If there is any truth to the argument of British exceptionalism, then this period provides a plethora of evidence for it. Many countries would have unpacked the rifles long before the period ended, but the British bided their time, seethed with rage at the antics that went on and waited for an election when they could exact their revenge against the guilty men who were responsible for it all.

The constitutional position, as Tombs makes clear, is that when a government has lost the support of the Commons, it should be voted down by a motion of no-confidence. Once carried, the rascals are thrown out and a new set of rascals elected in their place.

That did not happen during that roguish time, as an alliance of neo-Jacobin MPs, a compliant Speaker who clearly sympathised with them, coupled with a judiciary that seemed willing to flout established precedent all came together to try and force the government to act as they wished. The Fixed Term Parliament Act prevented the government from calling an election, and it looked for many long months as if the situation would continue to resemble the 17th century crisis that led to civil war, only this time as Tombs says, with “tragedy repeated as farce.”

Yet it ended, sooner than many of us expected, when the opposition folded and an election was called. Boris Johnson was given an 80 seat majority on the promise to get Brexit done and the Neo-Jacobins were packed off to a lifetime of obscurity. Readers of the Guardian will continue to whine and the rest of us will just get on with our lives, having rid ourselves on an undemocratic layer of government based in Brussels, which is all we ever wanted to do.

Come back, Mrs. May – all is forgiven!

STUART MILLSON says the much-maligned Theresa had Brexit about right

The ousting of Boris Johnson’s close political adviser, Dominic Cummings – architect of the Vote Leave victory in 2016, and (at the time of writing) the continued impasse over a final Brexit deal, have brought our relations with the EU into sharp focus once again.

Since the referendum, a moment in our history which confirmed an end to one of the most significant parts of the post-war consensus – that Britain should root itself within a European sphere of influence – the defeated pro-Remain side in Britain has tried, time and again, to reverse, or dilute, the result. Their efforts reached a zenith during the days of Theresa May’s premiership: her Government’s small majority in the House of Commons (reinforced by Unionist votes, which in the end dematerialised) making it impossible to bring EU exit legislation successfully through its many stages.

Unable to enact the will of the people as expressed in the Vote Leave result, Mrs May’s position became untenable – the only way forward for Brexit being a bonfire of the vanities: a General Election which would sweep away the entrenched Remainish majority in the Commons – removing all those MPs who famously put their own eloquence and ideology before Brexit. And it should not be forgotten that one of those MPs, in those uneasy days, was none other than Boris Johnson: a figure who could be counted upon to vote against his Prime Minister and party. As one backbencher smirkingly remarked, it was indeed strange to see the Brexit purists marching through the same Division lobbies as the SNP and the second-referendum brigade, leaving Mrs. May with just the tatters of her policy.

Yet the former Prime Minister – whose instinct was always to strike a compromise – did set out with the highest hopes for Brexit – and a final settlement which whilst not, perhaps, embodying everything for which we Brexiteers had hoped, nonetheless set our country on a course of independence – but sustaining immediate economic contacts with the bloc to which we formerly belonged as a political member. Put very simply, Mrs. May’s idea was that United Kingdom should leave the political institutions of the European Union (institutions which no longer serve any European citizen) but remain within, or alongside, all the practical economic arrangements, which allow life to continue as normal: lorries and coaches driving on and off ferries or Eurotunnel services; goods and services freely flowing – and the English middle class still able to visit and settle in Normandy at the drop of a three-cornered hat. But more than that, Mrs. May – the pragmatist, the careful Whitehall moderator – saw her deal in more than just ‘foreign policy’ terms. For this Prime Minister, an heir to Chamberlainite ideals of a united, social-democratic, communitarian Tory Britain, her Brexit deal was a visionary attempt to honour the entire result of the referendum, in a fusion of moderate-Leave and moderate-Remain ideals. The result: social cohesion, acceptance, domestic harmony.

She reasoned as follows: the majority of Remain voters, though obviously believing that we should stay within the Euro-club, were by no means part of the much-mocked ‘Remainiac’ rump, which seemed – each day, to parade itself across the news bulletins, with Euro-banner demonstrations outside Parliament and yet more legal and parliamentary challenges to the Government’s legislation. (Readers will recall international businesswoman, Gina Miller and her offshore backers’ resolve to stop ministerial invocation of Article 50 – the EU treaty’s leaving mechanism – in the Supreme Court.)

Furthermore, went the thinking, that most ‘Remain’ supporters also tended to take the view that, (a) Britain had been a member of the European project for over 40 years, and (b) that much of our trade is conducted with our continental partners, so why ‘rock the boat’ – why unravel complicated arrangements beneficial to industries and workers, just for the sake of a political point? Sharing also, perhaps, the tabloids’ and Telegraph suspicion, or dislike of the ‘Brussels bureaucrats’ (rather than the European Community itself), the middle-of-the-road Remainers, nevertheless constituted a large segment of the British electorate – an electoral element Mrs May did not wish to alienate. If the May  Government could appeal to this part of middle-England, counting on their sense of fair play to respect the majority Brexit vote, then the extreme and influential pro-EU faction could be isolated – portrayed as anti-democrats whose instincts were simply unreasonable, even hostile to the nation-state, yet adulatory of foreign banners and bureaucrats.

With a consensus achieved, the country could then begin to repair the divisions which flared up and began to cast a gloomy atmosphere over Britain in the months following the referendum: Brexit would be generous and consensual – and pro-Europeans would still have some of the cultural links they craved. But the ideal – first propounded by Mrs May in her famous Chatham House speech, setting out the aim of a sovereign Britain linked to many international bodies – was not to be. With a Corbynite Labour Party (excited about another election) scenting fear – and blood – from its Tory opponents; and with a ‘Brexit party’ at work on the Tory backbenches, tripping up the Government at every opportunity, the consensus Prime Minister could no longer continue her mission.

As we survey the Brexit landscape at the end of our transition year to full independence, we might ponder the notion that Mrs. May did, in fact, get it right: with a path that would have steered us away from over-dependence upon either the United States or Europe – a sensible insurance policy, given the change of administration now underway in Washington and a less sympathetic view of Brexit from the new President-Elect. And with Britain now demoralised through Covid,  fragmenting at the edges, too, as devolved UK assemblies chart their own path through the crisis, Mrs. May’s hope for a re-uniting of people of goodwill – non-ideological Brexiteers and realistic Remainers – could have given us the cohesion required to take us on the next step of our national journey.

Why two tribes went to war – Brexit’s background

KEN BELL reads a useful analysis of what led to the 2016 vote

Brexitland, Maria Sobelewska and Robert Ford, Cambridge University Press, 2020, 408 pages, £11.99

Porfirio Díaz, the man who dominated Mexican politics for a generation until his downfall in 1910, once remarked that nothing ever happened in his country until it happened. What he meant was that there has always been an enormous time lag between cause and effect in Mexican politics, and in Brexitland, Maria Sobolewska and Robert Ford show that the same is true of Britain.

In doing so, they have also managed to demolish the myth that is now an article of faith in Guardian-reading circles that nobody was bothered about the EU until a couple of years before the 2016 referendum. What the authors demonstrate rather well is that many issues that were of importance to the population were suppressed by the main political parties from just after the Second World War. Viewed in that light, Brexit is about more than just leaving the European Union; it is shorthand for a lot of long-standing factors that have led to a new political division in Britain.

Immigration, of course, is the most important factor and for that reason several chapters of Brexitland are devoted to it. Starting in 1948 when the great and the good created a nationality act which allowed Commonwealth citizens to settle freely in the UK, the aim was to tie the fully independent white Commonwealth states to their mother country and to create an Anglosphere long before that word was even coined. What nobody realised was that New Commonwealth people would take advantage of this liberalism, even though since most of their countries were not independent at that time they did not need this legislation. As Sobolewska and Ford point out, both parties supported immigration even when it became obvious that many of their traditional supporters did not.

The opposition to that policy, begun in places like Smethwick in 1964, continuing on via Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech in 1968 and culminating, possibly, with Margaret Thatcher’s 1978 comment about people being afraid of being ‘swamped’ by new Commonwealth immigrants certainly helped the Tories acquire a reputation in the public mind as the party that was sounder on immigration than Labour. However, as Edward Heath proved when he decided to allow around 30,000 Ugandan Asians to enter the country, that soundness was often more in word than deed. As the country moved into the 21st century, with Labour allowing a major influx of eastern Europeans – many of them settling in areas that had no previous experience of immigration –people woke up to the fact that neither party was prepared to speak for them on that issue, so they began to support Nigel Farage and UKIP.

Other factors were in play, such as the growth of the university sector, which led to many inner city areas becoming home to students and graduates, who often made common cause with ethnic minorities to create a new voting core for Labour. That new core strategy was based on the gamble that the party’s traditional, collectivist, industrial working class voters would stay onside as they had nowhere else to go, but UKIP proved the flaw in that argument. As the authors also make clear, the new core was not as tribally loyal as the old one had been and was quite willing to dump Labour if they disagreed with particular party policies.

Out of all this churning, new identities were created, and a new political division was created. The referendum campaign, with its binary choice, forced people to choose one side or the other – and having made their choice they often found that they had more in common with people on their side of the referendum debate than they had with the parties with which they had once identified. Leading on from that, as the authors do, we can see that the referendum campaign made people aware of this new division, as well as helping to shape it. At the end of it, Britain had “two new tribes aware of who they were, what they stood for and what they opposed”.

A good example of this in action is not included in Brexitland, probably because it happened too late for inclusion. During the European election campaign in 2019, Featherstone Working Men’s Club (near Wakefield) played host to a Brexit Party rally. One of the main speakers was Anne Widdecombe, arguably one of Thatcher’s more ghoulish ministers, who was nicknamed “Doris Karloff” back in the day. The club’s members, men who had stood on the picket lines during the miners’ strike of 1984/85, cheered her to the echo, to the utter disgust of the Guardian.

 The 2016 referendum was very much the victory of one identity, which was the geographically rooted, socially conservative, but often economically radical section of the population against the Metropolitan, white-collar graduate element. Although the authors do not quote Theresa May, she may have had a point when she spoke about people from somewhere clashing with people from nowhere. Brexitland is a heavyweight, academic text that should be essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand this new political alignment in Britain and how it came about.