“One of the most dishonest smears from angry Remainers in June 2016 was that in voting against a trading and administrative bloc, every Brexit voter was not just venomously racist but was rejecting the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Mozart, Marie Curie, Van Gogh, alpenhorns and proper patisserie.” Libby Purves in “The Times” today.
The sad reality is that the average Brexit voter wouldn’t have a clue what Libby Purves is talking about in her excellent article. The referendum didn’t operate at the level of Goethe or Van Gogh but at the level of Nigel Farage. Yes that’s the same Farage as the man with a European name, ancestors and a German wife. I don’t think Farage mentioned the Renaissance once and those that voted for his malignant ideology wouldn’t have heard of it.
I’m a member of the metropolitan middle class elite. A product of a good education, career and a fair dollop of good luck. I’ve been to La Scala and the Philharmonie and the Louvre and walked in The Alps. I’ve lived for some years on the “continent “ and speak one European language fluently and others a bit. I have pride in being European. This is not a boast , simply an illustration of a divide. People like me were outnumbered and out thought in the reductio ad absurdum of the “Leave” campaign.
In a battle in the gutter with a mendacious message on a bus and Farage standing in front of a xenophobic poster Mozart didn’t get much of a look in. We Britons are, of course, genetically, historically, culturally and emotionally European. But not all of us knew it and some of those who did – Boris Johnson for one – ignored tradition and reality to lie for their own advantage. They’re still at it.