But that still doesn’t get at the most searing irony of the Brexit movement. It’s championed by elites themselves, funded by billionaires, and intimately connected to influential media. The comparison to the Trump campaign, the latest career move of a business mogul and reality television star, seems pretty clear.
Case in point is Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London who helped lead the “leave” campaign and now stands to replace his former schoolmate, the equally posh Prime Minister David Cameron, as the next head of Britain’s government. He, like his other “leave” ally, conservative politician Michael Gove, is a former journalist with a prominent column. Neither, as The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum observes, can be “accurately described as poor, provincial or anti-establishment.”
One of the more excoriating dismissals of Johnson’s opportunism — he flip-flopped his position on Brexit to find himself a stone’s throw away from 10 Downing Street — was written by the British journalist and editor Tina Brown, who accused Johnson of a “fundamental lack of seriousness” and suggested he never “dreamed that Brexit would actually succeed.”
“Johnson’s fake disarray—his bonhomous tanker of beer and Falstaffian spilling gut, his genial, jokey façade concealing a deeply opportunistic nature—allowed him alliances with such odious figures as UKIP’s xenophobic leader, Nigel Farage, whose rat poison salesman persona would never have won Brexit without the fig leaf of Boris’s charm,” Brown wrote in the Daily Beast.