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The Right-Wing Brexit Delusion: How a political movement became a fundamentalist religion [OPINION]

Brexit has taken on an almost religious form among extreme some right-wing nationalists.

Many have transformed into dogma driven fanatics, hell-bent on reaching the ‘promised land’ – a place far above the clouds where Churchill-shaped angels play endless renditions of that holiest of hymns, God Save the Queen, from harpsichords made from Admiral Nelson’s precious hair itself.

Their language and thinking around Brexit – rarely grounded in facts, sanity, logic, reason, evidence or even democracy – has been completely thrown by the wayside and replaced by what can only be accurately described as the fundamentalist religion of Brexit.

Credits: UKIP logo & Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett

It seems Brexit heaven can only be reached through committed belief, and we shall ascend into this holy place only when we have rid ourselves of the impurity of the unelected Brussels bureaucrats: the truly wicked writ large.

The Brexit religion is dominated by the word “believe”.

You can only deliver Brexit if you believe in Brexit.

Theresa May, now a full and enlightened convert, spoke at the General Election following her fabled conversion in July of Our Lord’s year 2016.

May consults Pope Francis and receives his blessing before her miraculous Brexit conversion

May would now spend her life preaching the Brexit gospel and dismissing the Brexit agnostics, decrying that everyone who does not believe in Brexit, cannot therefore believe in Britain.

It is the talk of *believing* in Brexit and *believing* in Britain which typifies the way in which Brexit has become its own religion, with ignorance and dismissal of facts only adding to it.

Britain within this context serves as the holy-land of Brexit, the sacred soil that roots the foundation of the Brexit church, and to question the state, is to question this holy Brexit church.

First of all, to state the obvious: Britain and Brexit are both real things – they exist, at least, in law, and as real political movements. Therefore, they should not require a leap of faith. But, in the use of the word ‘belief’, the Brexit contingent are asking us simply to believe in ‘it’ and it will work.

Belief is the core of any religion, no religion can survive without believers. That is why religious followers cannot make a rational argument as to why they believe in God — it always comes down to a matter of faith and belief. It is so because it is so.

This Brexit religion now provides people of a similar mentality with a self-assured belief in their own unquestionable superiority, and thus, it seems, the misguided justification to simply decry all agnostics as unpatriotic unbelievers.

It is absurd to even suggest that serious political events should be conducted on what is essentially a leap of faith — this crazy rationale is truly absurd, backwards, and downright dangerous.

We must ask therefore ask whether of not the rabid right-wing Brexit fundamentalists would approach any other aspect of their life like this?

Would the same people go to a witch-doctor when they feel sick? Or would they go to their GP? A witch-doctor, after all, tells you that they can cure that pesky lung cancer — all you have to do is believe and have faith. I suspect that the answer would be no. So why then do so many people accept and fight based on their unquestionable belief in Brexit?

And what is it exactly that these the fundamentalists believe in? What, exactly, is it that agnostics should believe in?

Believe in Britain. Believe in real change. Believe me.

Farage 3:21

Just like any religion, Brexit has its own range of absurd deities and false Gods.

High Preist Farage delivers one of his many enlightening and highly moral sermons.

Leading the flock of the faithful masses: High Priest, Nigel Farage, smoking an incense stick made of nicotine, and endlessly sipping blessed ale from the British Holy Grail.

Accompanied by a devoted council of disciples – Arch Bishop of Brexit Boris Johnson, Saint Daniel Hannan, and Sister of the Holy-British pork pie, Andrea Leadsom – preachers assembled to spread far and wide the “believe in Britain” fable, screaming defiantly at the wicked. Their mission: to convert the dirty heathens, and reign scorn upon those who have not yet seen the light.

Believe in our country, believe in what we can do.

Johnson 12:03

See the light and you too will gain access to an exclusive post-EU heaven seen only in the visions of the chosen few.

Farage and his gang of Union Jack-clad Saints offered followers the Brexit dream: come with me, listen to me, believe in me, believe in what I say — I don’t listen to the experts, you shouldn’t listen to the experts either! Ignore all the economists, academics, scientists, ignore facts, ignore reason, ignore logic! Just come with me, have faith, believe in Brexit, believe in Britain.

Unlikely converts worshipping at the alter of Brexit

Pumping out mythological propaganda through barely coherent and poorly constructed tabloid scripture: the tiny grey island which once enslaved, ravaged, raped, and plundered the world, was actually acting upon the noblest of moral imperatives: to save the savage peoples of the world from their wicked life of immoral sinning. Replacing heathen debauchery with fish and chips across the globe.

Tabloid scripture attempts to entertain by using poorly executed puns to promote the Brexit ideology

If you hold onto those BELIEFS, if you want that change, then we BELIEVE, that together, we can achieve great things.

Farage 21:16

This call for belief was rewarded – for Farage and the Brexiteers they had won — their story had convinced an entire nation to simply believe and thy will be done.

Just like any religion, this simple faith in Brexit thrived among the desperate, and amongst those on lower incomes – those stuck in monotonous worlds of work and debt, who simply wanted things to change – at any cost.

The congregation. Image credit: CNN

When people are suffering and need help, those who seek to capitalise for their own ends will always be found close by, lurking in the shadows.

It is easy to mock such political farce, but the truth is, that desperate people do desperate things. Desperate people who no longer trust in any authority – just as the US has shown us with Trump and here with Brexit – do incredibly desperate things, just to feel the slightest bit of hope in the direst of situations.

Apart from being deeply immoral, the problem is that sooner or later, reality sets in. Whether or not you choose to acknowledge it or remain in ignorance, that’s a different story.

Sooner or later, the terminal cancer patient’s joy at being cured by the snake oil salesman dies — and he dies in pain, broken, and defrauded. For agnostics he does not go to heaven or enjoy an afterlife of freedom and pleasure, he is gone: he is dead.

He leaves the faith healer with a suitcase full of cash after swindling a dying man out of his life savings, with a waiting room full of fresh victims to look forward to.

Unless we can get to grips with reality and start treating Brexit as if it is a serious political-diplomatic event that will shape not just our future, but that of many generations to come — Brexit could prove to be the terminal cancer, and our country will be the patient. 

The right-wing fundamentalists who drive the Brexit faith are not the only ones who believe that Britain is better off out of the EU.

The left-wing Brexit campaigns were all but ignored during the referendum: the campaigners in the spirit of legendary socialist Tony Benn made a coherent and sound case for Brexit: one that would allow us to make sensible, rational plans for our future outside of the EU.

And that to me is the danger of the right-wing Brexit fundamentalists: their plan is more of the same, more neoliberalism and less democracy – and as a result we will all suffer, with the true Brexit believers inevitably being hit hardest once again.

When the facade is finally broken and reality sets in, it will somehow be the left’s fault for allowing this to happen. When the promises of heaven turn into the realities of hell, it is the most burned who will scream the loudest: they will scream not at those who cause the suffering, but at those who are nearest by.

It is true to say that the right-wing fundamentalists refuse to listen, again accusing us of being non-believers. But without discussion, without debate, and without respect from both sides, it is impossible to imagine how bad this reality could be for the Brexit faithful when the repercussions become undeniably obvious.

The Brexit faithful may have their own religion, their own Gods – charlatans and snake oil salesman of the lowest order – but that does not make the entire congregation bad people, and it does not make them stupid.

Whilst I have no answer to how we can seriously engage with them at this crucial time in Britain’s history, it is clearly something that we must still attempt to do, no matter how futile.

Anything less, and we really are delaying our own pain by submitting blindly to the new and supposedly unquestionable religious authority of Brexit.

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