Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Brexit, End Game and the Left.

with 12 comments

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Brexit Publicity by British Tourist Board.

“Tout commence en mystique et finit en politique.”

Charles Péguy. Notre jeunesse.1910.

”Our central argument is that the various and disparate forms of discontent which led 51,9% of voters to vote Leave must not be allowed to fade away until the Brexit process is complete. This discontent is the emergency, which will power our programmes. If Brexit was fuelled, first and foremost, by a sense of the part of many of the British people that the political class had betrayed them, that sense of betrayal must be sustained. Indeed, it can now be focused more accurately since, with the reframing of Leave’s narrow majority as the ‘will of the people’, public anger will be turned most effectively on those members of the political and media establishment who can portrayed as frustrating that will…”(P 359 – 9)

Imperium Foundation. Middle England. Jonathan Coe 2018.

How long ago seems the aftermath of the Brexit vote. After the 2016 result, Roger Scruton talked mystically of the need for “conciliation”, the opportunity it gave to move towards, a decentralised economy, of the kind that existed in the nineteenth century and could exist again. The poet of identity in political communities continued, ”We must build the thing that the British people value most, which is place.” The pseudo people of Anywhere, the “metropolitan elites”, opined David Goodhart, had been answered by a “populist revolt” by the People from Somewhere. Susan Watkins, editor of New Left Review, chimed in, “Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it, against which the entire global establishment – Obama to Abe, Merkel to Modi, Junker to Xi …inveigled.” (1)

Coming to the issue of identity, Eric Kaufmann observes, “What really distinguishes Leave from remain voters is their willingness to sacrifice economic benefits to cut immigration”. In their favourable account of national populism, Eatwell and Goodwin give legitimacy to fears about “hyper-ethnic change”. “We do not think the term “racism” should be applied solely because people seek to retain the broad parameters of the ethnic base of country and its national identity, even though this can involve discriminating against outside groups.” (2)

The Great Replacement.

The poetasters of national identity began to look, to those soaked in the traditions of nationalist European literature,  like a return to the themes of Maurice Barrès and “la terre et ses morts”, “la substance nationale” and hostility to cosmopolitan “dérancinés” In recent days the arch-theorist of a great identity replacement Renaud Camus has sprung into the public eye. The claimed threat of immigrant “colonisateurs” bringing “nocence” (harm and damage) to In-nocent Europe has inspired the most ignoble of reactions. (3)

Alan Thornett was perhaps the first to predict that a Yes Vote for Brexit would mean allow this “carnival of reaction” to flourish. Others, enlightened by Fintan O’Toole, recognise in Brexit, a “genuine national revolution against a phoney oppressor.” A burly figure, the ignored working class, was spoken for by the sovereigntist left. The cry for sovereignty, elaborated into a celebration of sovereign nations was, for some, the People’s Brexit crew,  the vehicle of a new socialist project. This prospect of a British Bolshevik Beacon, found a few takers when the economics did not just add up. British political sovereignty, run by the left, runs up against the need to trade, and the country’s embedded condition in a capitalist world, not the much overdrawn ‘neoliberal’ rules of the EU. Critics could point to the Irish writer’s insight into how mysticism had descended into politics. Behind Brexit, the real steam engine,  lay “Jacob Rees Mogg’s “sovereignty of the super rich and their right to escape.” and a scramble for Parliamentary power.(4)

Rhetoric and Reality.

The rhetoric about “elites”, “oligarchies”, and the political “caste”, has seeped from right to left. It is tempting to dismiss this as an unwanted revival of a strain of 19th century European socialism, hostile to representative democracy, looking for decisive leaders to sweep away the manoeuvres of Parliament and the forces of “financial feudalism”. The reappearance of the references to Rothschild, and newer name of George Soros, has echoes of one such ‘socialist’ diatribe against the “financial aristocracy”, Alphonse Toussenel’s Les Juifs Rois de l’époque (1886). Yet the programme of ‘Imperium’, that is the European Research Group (ERG) is indeed, as fictionalised  lightly in Jonathan Coe’s Middle England,  “to liberate Britain from the EU’s oppressive tax and other regulations and allow it to become a genuine free-trading country with its principle endeavours directed towards Asian and US markets.” It is that faction which is riding high in the Conservative Party. It is the motor behind a drive for the worst possible Brexit possible. (5)

In the (just translated) Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut, Cristophe Gilley hailed the Brexit result. It was sign of the ‘Marronage”, the escape of slaves, from the yoke of the establishment, a development he detected that was well underway in the Hexagon – as would underline as the Gilets Jaunes emerged. The British Somewheres, like “la France périphérique” had found a voice in voting for Sovereignty. No0 doubt Nigel Farage is leading them at this very moment towards the Great Wen. Eatwell and Goodwin suggest that the return to two-party dominance in 2017 is far from a new normal. It “may represent an unstable prelude to populist-right renewal.” (6)

There is one vehicle that can halt this in its tracks. The mass movement against Brexit, led, for the moment by the liberal centre, but backed by sections of the left, is a democratic challenge to the projects of the ERG. If, as Another Europe is Possible argues, it can reach deeper into the Labour Party and the labour movement, it may be able to head off Brexit. There is now everything to play for. Now. (7)





  1. Pages 218, and 223. Where We Are. The State of Britain Now. Roger Scruton. Bloomsbury. 2017. The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. David Goodhart. Hurst & Company. 2017.Casting Off? Susan Watkins. New Left Review. No 100. 2016.
  2. Page 201. White Shift. Eric Kaufmann. Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities Penguin 2018. Page 75. National Populism. The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy. Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin. Pelican. 2018.
  3. Pages 281 – 283. Les Déracinés. Maurice Barrès. 1897. Gallimard. 1988. Le Grand Remplacement. Renaud Camus. 2012. Page 70. La Nocence, instrument du Grand Remplacement.
  4. Page 172 Heroic Failure, Brexit and Politics of Pain. Fintan O’Toole. Apollo. 2018.
  5. Page 359. Middle England. Jonathan Coe. Viking 2018.
  6. Page 248. Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut, Cristophe Gilley. Flammarion. 2017. Page 209. National Populism. Op cit.
  7. Another Europe is Possible.



12 Responses

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  1. Andrew Coates

    March 22, 2019 at 1:27 pm

  2. A re-run of the first referendum with May’s deal as as option is a nonsense. For the simple reasons: 1) How many men/women in the street have actually read May’s 585-page deal plus addendum. Even if HM Government were to post out 60 million copies of it, they just end up as fire-lighters. How many people read the information pack clearly explaining the consequences of voting ‘Leave’. 2) How many men/women in the street can explain the ‘back-stop’. Men/women in the street have better things to do with time such as watch soap operas. Nobody in their right mind is going to read a boring, dry technical document.

    Mrs Brown

    March 22, 2019 at 4:59 pm

  3. *Should say read AND understood

    Mrs Brown

    March 22, 2019 at 5:01 pm

  4. Andrew Coates

    March 22, 2019 at 5:10 pm

  5. The back-stop is a tricky one to explain. It appears to be a term borrowed from American soccer – a barrier to stop the ball going off the court. So you would assume it must mean some kind of border? But it doesn’t seem to be the case – something to do with a customs union? Then they were talking about some sort of border in the middle of the Irish Sea. Honestly haven’t the foggiest what they are all fighting over. It is like trying to explain the off-side rule in football Nobody should be allowed to vote in a second Referendum unless they can explain the ‘back-stop’ in clear and concise terms and demonstrate an understanding of what they are talking about..


    March 22, 2019 at 5:30 pm

  6. I still don’t get the Backstop. In fact only when I read the French translation,Filet de sécurité, which means, simply and clearly, safety net, did I half get it.

    Andrew Coates

    March 22, 2019 at 5:48 pm

  7. Where is the article from?

    Dave Roberts

    March 23, 2019 at 8:07 am

  8. Is this Kemptown the one in Brighton?

    Dave Roberts

    March 23, 2019 at 8:09 am

  9. In the physical sense a ‘safety net’ is more to prevent something or someone falling through, to catch, break a fall; a ‘backstop’ is more a physical barrier to prevent someone or something passing through and implies a hard physical border. If they mean ‘safety net’ as in social security what’s with the Americanism ‘back-stop; why not call it the ‘safety net’?


    March 23, 2019 at 10:53 am

  10. ‘Safety net’ – something to fall back on? But then again, why ‘backstop’? It doesn’t make sense. Just like the rest of Brexit 😉


    March 23, 2019 at 11:05 am

  11. It is now pretty bleeding obvious that we are never meant to leave the EU, at least until it doesn’t suit the vested interests who are doing very well thank you very much out the EU, whoever they may be.

    Hotel Brussels (You can check out any time you like but you can never leave)

    March 23, 2019 at 12:52 pm

  12. ♫ You stab it with your steely knife but you still can’t kill the EU

    Last thing I remember I was running for the Brexit

    Au revoir said Juncker, we are programmed to deceive

    You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

    Welcome to the 👿 Hotel EU 👿 ♫

    Hotel EU

    March 23, 2019 at 12:58 pm

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