What happens when populism fails to deliver on its far-flung promises?
With a year to go until Britain’s official break from Europe that is a question that seems to be gaining relevance as a likely outcome of the process gets pieced together.
There will be no “taking back control” at the end, no money for the NHS or British jobs for British people. Rather we have to face the reality that we will be worse off in all scenarios when Britain leaves the EU, hardly the land of milk and honey that was promised in the referendum.
But what is fascinating about this outcome is how those who drove the populist movement have reacted to it. Those who were once vocal critics of the EU are now vocal critics of the way in which our divorce is being handled, and it is having a trickle-down effect.
According to a new poll for GMB marking Article 50 anniversary only 15 per cent of Brits think the Government is handling the Brexit process well, with more than three times as many saying it is being handled badly.
Less than a third of people believe the Government has put jobs, wages and living standards as a top priority in Brexit negotiations, and 67 per cent think Brexit is a distraction the Government from other important issues facing the county.
As Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: “If these negotiations mean fewer good jobs, companies leaving the UK and continued insecurity and uncertainty, it will be because the Government has made a hash of it.”
But have they, or was the whole process a farce in the first place?
According to Wandsworth Councillor for West Putney Ian Lewer, this forms part of the viscous circle of populism.
He said political movements such as the Leave campaign “have found a way to prey on the disaffected in a way that others haven’t been able to.
“Promising the world and then when that’s not delivered blaming it on others, just confirming the views of the disaffected.”
The result is that accountability is stripped from the whole process and British politics is left battling a never ending blame game, while those of us who try to be reasonable are “screamed at and accused of being on the take”.
Worrying times indeed.
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