This article was originally published in the Irish Times,Sat, Jul 2, 2016, 05:49, Updated: Sat, Jul 2, 2016, 11:30
Boris Johnson was only playing, after all. But he was playing with fire
We are living with the politics of the fake orgasm.
The leaders of the Brexit campaign are obliged to join in with the ecstasies of their followers. They must let out a few polite yelps of satisfaction. But a week on, it is increasingly clear that theirs is a phony consummation. The earth may have moved – but not for them.
As shown by Boris Johnson’s retreat from the prospect of having to actually govern the new kingdom he did so much to create, it was all a performance. It will not be long before those they embraced – the alienated, the dispossessed – realise that they have been had in more ways than one.
Like the followers of Donald Trump in the US, white working-class Brexit voters are experiencing a new kind of political relationship. These movements may look like the reactionary populism we have seen many times before, but they are profoundly different in one crucial respect. [READ ARTICLE IN FULL]