Notes on Brexit

ian leslie
2 min readJun 24, 2016


Let’s start with some righteous anger:

  1. Philip Collins, The Times. Paywalled so I think I’ll just quote this very good passage, addressed to Boris Johnson and co., in full:

“You have made a promise, whether you realise it or not, to bring down immigration. Even if you find, as you will, that employers rebel because they need the labour, you have promised. You have condemned yourself to leading a government for whom the number of foreigners in the country is the primary issue.

You will then find, of course, that when the white working class says “immigration” it means something more than the presence of Polish plumbers and Romanian fruit pickers. It means that life is hard, that employment prospects are bleak and that work is either unavailable or of really low quality. It is beyond laughable that the exit fantasists have the first idea what to do about this. Frankly most of them have never shown the slightest concern about that before. Well, it’s their problem now.”

2. Nick Clegg, Financial Times (I think ungated) on the insouciance and myopia of Cameron and Osborne. By the way, he makes an important point on anger: those of us who think this was a bad decision are not (or should not) be angry with the voters, but the politicians who got us here.

OK enough anger. Let’s read 3. Stephen Bush’s sad, superbly drawn portrait of a divided country.

Now to a piece on the UK-EU relationship:

4. Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times, “Britain Left the EU Decades Before the Referendum (paywalled but you can Google your way into it). Thought-provoking alternative view from a Remainer who thinks maybe this is actually for the best, since the UK was never fully signed up to the EU project, emotionally or politically, and the resulting tension was corrosive for all. (By the way I think it’s perfectly fine to change one’s mind after a vote, we’ve all done it, so I could do with less of the “Hey that guy voted Out and now he’s worried about it, what an idiot”).

4. At times like these, when emotions, including my own, are swirling around, I hunger for cool, detailed, informed analyses like this one, from James Strong of the LSE. His concluding sentence: “One way or another there will have to be a further vote.”



ian leslie

Author of 'CONFLICTED: How Productive Disagreements Lead to Better Outcomes’ (Faber/HarperCollins) Twitter: @mrianleslie Substack: The Ruffian https://ianleslie