- - Tuesday, July 5, 2016


LONDON | A week after the historic Brexit referendum I attended what we might call its sequel. As Americans will recall, throughout Great Britain on June 23 all of the country’s bien-pensants ever so unctuously voted against Brexit — that is to say, they voted against leaving the EU. They lost by 52 percent to 48 percent. The outcome was a bit of a surprise, but they lost fair and square. Thus a week later, they flooded the streets of central London to protest the outcome of the vote and piously to call for a new referendum. It was not that they claimed the vote had been rigged. Rather, they claimed the wrong people won. They wanted a second try.

Frankly, I hope the majority who voted to leave the EU grant these sore-losers a second vote. If the sore-losers lose that vote I say grant them a third vote and a fourth vote. If those voting to remain in Europe finally do win — say on the 23rd vote or the 24th when many of the proponents of exiting the EU have grown bored or have left for vacation — what will the victorious Remain voters do? How will they treat the roughly 50-52 percent who won the previous votes and presumably are still desirous of leaving Europe?

Well, if you heard how the Remain advocates were describing the Leave advocates just before the June 23 referendum, you might be concerned for their civil liberties and for the rule of law in old England. The Remain advocates denounced their adversaries as the “less educated,” the “rural voters,” “old people who only a limited life expectancy as opposed to these young, robust, highly educated, urban sophisticates who lost on June 23 and now were marching thorough central London to reverse the vote with another election.

Mobs of young, highly educated egotists (and not-so-educated thugs) who do not take elections seriously but take themselves very seriously have been seen in this old world before. They often ship their opposition off to re-education camps or put them up against the wall. All that might save the Leave vote in Britain today is their vast numbers. They beat these prigs by 1,269,501 votes. People who believe they should get a second vote if they lose the first time around do not much care for the legitimacy of their opponents, but such opponents can put of a good fight. There was a hint of this in what became the Spanish Civil War. Numbered among the Remain crowd were thousands of latent authoritarian personalities.

As luck would have it, I was in London for the historic march on London that followed the historic vote to leave Europe. I enjoyed every minute of the spectacle. I marched down Piccadilly with the self-righteous shouters and placard-wavers. They reminded me of demonstrators I had marched with before: the anti-war rallies of past decades, the ban the bomb rallies, the workers rallies, the militant vegetarians — all the lost causes of the West. Their goal had for the most part been won by the American armed forces, the CIA, politicians such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, free-market economics, Milton Friedman. Milton Friedman, here’s to you.

The crowd was very polite — unlike some others through the years: 1968 demonstrations at Chicago’s Democratic Convention, the March on Washington, more recently, the anti-Trump rallies. The families of the 30-somethings brought their children. The college-aged were pretty much sober. After all, it was midday and they had yet time to auspicate their binge drinking. There were some rude signs and some lewd gesticulating, but not much. These people were on their best behavior.

Yet as a seasoned observer of these demonstrations, I sensed an ominous undercurrent. These, after all, were the morally superior of a great nation. They had publicly proclaimed that they would not be governed by the outcome of a vote. If the vote did not go their way, they would bloody well thwart it. Just as they had thwarted other initiatives of British democracy. They would resort to the bureaucracy, to the courts, to the media, to academe. They are the bien-pensant of the left. Think of what they did to Margaret Thatcher. They are relentless. Only Donald Trump has had the perspicacity to identify them as losers.

• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is author of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.

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