The British People Have Been Suckered

Written June 28th 2016 for Time Magazine.

We’re so, so, sorry. British people say that a lot, but this time we mean it—at least, the 48.1% of us who did not vote to light the funhouse on fire and see what happened. There is a cartoon logic to the slow-motion car-crash of British politics. Days after the country voted by a very narrow margin to leave the E.U., in a referendum engineered by a weak prime minister to secure his own power, it feels like we’ve got to the part in one of those old looney-tunes shows where Wile E. Coyote chases Roadrunner right off the edge of a cliff, and hangs there in mid-air, his legs pinwheeling. Just one look down and we’re plummeting into the worst political crisis in living memory.

Brexit is a shameful, concocted word for a shameful, concocted situation. Hours after the vote was in, the prime minister had resigned, and his party descended into civil war, with the Labour opposition not far behind as the stock markets tumbled and Scotland and Northern Ireland opened the question of breaking up the union. Meanwhile, racists across the nation were emboldened with a venal sense of victory, and started assaulting Asian children in the street, posting cards through their neighbors’ doorstelling “Muslims” and “vermin” to go “home.” The government has no plan for what happens next. The “leave” campaign has no plan, either. The Labour Party is busy tearing itself to shreds. We thought we were better than this. We were wrong.

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