I phoned an old friend living in the UK today to offer my congratulations on Britain’s vote to exit the European Union. He agreed that the vote was largely an expression of ordinary people rejecting the political and media elite’s vision of how Britain should be ruled.
We can add to that the religious establishment elite, well represented by Justin Welby and John Sentamu, whose disappointment in the result, having robbed them of any faculties required to come up with a sensible response, prompted them to resort to the well-worn bridge building cliché and an appeal to the ephemeral commodity enshrined high on the totem of liberal Anglican pieties: diversity:
As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.
From a Canadian perspective, Rex Murphy has it right:
The often-ignored, sometimes quite rudely deplored British people have spoken and, to the horror of enlightened opinion, respectable party leaders, the ever-guiding liberal intelligentsia, have decided they don’t want “in” the European Union. The vote comes as a mighty shock to broad-minded continentalists and supranationalists everywhere, but particularly the high elites of British politics. The Guardian’s readership will need special help — grief counsellors are already overwhelmed.
The EU vote is the most dramatic illustration to date of how the “guiding elites” of many Western countries have lost the fealty and trust of their populations. Of the gap between ordinary citizens, facing the challenges of daily life, and the swaddled, well-off and pious tribes of those who govern them, and increasingly govern them with a mixture of moralistic superiority and witless condescension.
And so does Tim Stanley in the UK:
This was the day the British people defied their jailers.
People wanted to have their say and they did. Up and down the country they defied the experts and went with their conscience. Labour voters most of all: the northeast rebelled against a century of Labour leadership. I am astonished. Staggered. Humbled. I should never have lost faith in my countrymen. Those bold, brave, beautiful British voters.
Why did they do it? That, we’ll pick apart in the next few weeks. I think that Leave genuinely ran the better campaign, more hopeful and upbeat. Immigration mattered a great deal – although one YouGov poll ranked it third behind democracy and the economy. It’s possible that voters grasped the essential point about this referendum better than we the commentators did. It was a vote of confidence in Britain. Should we run our affairs or should we delegate it to foreign bureaucrats? When I was leaving my polling station, I said to a chap: “I found voting quite emotional.” He replied that this was the day we got our freedom back. That’s how it feels for millions of Britons.