Johnson, Fox, May: The Brexit Bullies

However, in all of these situations, there is often someone (or some state) that eventually stands up to the tyrant and declaims: ‘NO, enough is enough’, and attempts to stop the overbearing power from doing any more damage. In politics, great individual and national battles of the past show us how effective these resistances are, even if they come at great cost to those involved: Martin Luther King and his help in transforming the racial inequality of a nation, Ghandi and his challenge to the biggest show in town in the 20th century to name the two most obvious (although there are countless others).

It is tempting to see the broad contours of the Brexit narrative that emerged from Conservative Party Conference this week to be following a similar pattern. On first reading, all of the language, the rhetoric emanating from Birmingham, had the whiff of a similar battle to oppose the attentions of an all too powerful bully. Boris Johnson told us that Brexit vote was a vote ‘for economic freedom and political freedom’; Liam Fox talked of ‘the brave and historic decision of the British people’; David Davis described how the UK was on its way ‘out of the European Union and into a brighter and better future’; and worst of all, Theresa May – our Prime Minister, the highest most respected office in the land – described the referendum result as ‘a revolution’, and told us how a ‘Great Repeal Act’ (the Great harking back to the progressive reforms of the early 19th century), would ‘ get rid of the European Communities Act’, ensuring that the ‘authority of EU law in this country [is] ended forever’. Stirring stuff indeed; and seemingly, on the face of it, an exercise in heroic resistance.

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