By committing to Leave, the Conservatives have acquired new supporters who want more government protection from the rigors of globalism—even as the party’s own internal justification for Brexit was to rip up EU regulations, shrink the British state, and reposition Britain as more global, not less. With the government determined to Leave, the opposition Labour Party should logically speak for Remain. But under the left-sectarian leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour does not want the voters who would be attracted to a Remain message. This has left Labour with no coherent message at all on the single most important issue facing the country.
The result is a paralytic muddle, in which Labour snubs its most natural voters and Conservatives plot to betray theirs.
The next few days will see a sequence of dramatic events in British politics. The timeline is confusing; the outcomes are unpredictable. But it’s a good guess that Johnson will pull a rabbit out of a hat, procure something that can be sold as a deal, and put himself on the road to the election he wants. Johnson and his advisers hope that once they put Brexit behind them, they can return to the familiar politics of rich versus poor, Thatcherism versus socialism, up versus down. Jeremy Corbyn and his Marxoid advisers hope the same thing. They will all be disappointed. They are talking about yesterday’s issues in tomorrow’s world. Brexit will never be over, not even if Britain quits the European Union, because the discontents who caused Brexit will still seethe the day after Brexit—and probably more than ever.