05/09/2016 08:40 BST | Updated 05/09/2017 06:12 BST

Brexit: March For Europe Won't Drag Back Debate

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Britain is moving on from the EU referendum and looking to the future. While for some time back in June and July the media had tried to spin the Bregret narrative, that quickly fell by the wayside as it became apparent that no, actually, Brexit voters were happy with their decision. With the woeful despair of some Remain supporters appearing increasingly histrionic, poll results indicated that in fact the Bregret story had been unsubstantiated and Leave voters' opinions hadn't changed.

As weeks have turned to a couple of months, it's noticeable in the attitudes and comments of a good number of Remainers that while they would still prefer to stay in the EU, they are more than capable of accepting and working with the result. The conversation is turning inevitably to how everyone, Leave and Remain, can take shared ownership of Brexit and ensure that Britain makes the best possible job of disentangling itself from the European Union in a fair and egalitarian manner.

That is, until last Saturday, when the March for Europe that took place in London saw fit to try and drag us firmly back to square one. Looking at footage of the get-together and listening to those who joined in, along with some of the great and the good who addressed them, it was as if we'd slipped back in time to 24 June, when division, self-pity, and slanderous muck-throwing poisoned the atmosphere.

On Saturday all the old bigotry and hypocrisy coagulated noxiously, as mis-shapen, fallacious conceits were tediously regurgitated: Leave voters are inherently tainted with racism and intolerance. Leave voters are stupid and neglectful, and weren't capable of making their own minds up responsibly. Leave voters were brainlessly manipulated by a lying, deceptive political class, while, incoherently, democracy is dangerous and decisions must be placed in the hands of our social superiors. And on and on, grinding out cultish, false gospel through a mental straitjacket, no wiser now than 10 weeks ago.

Christ, I thought as I portrayed the wreckage on Twitter, have we got to go through all this shit again? But, thankfully, perhaps not. Looking at the online front pages of Britain's national press on Sunday afternoon, the March for Europe (and by Europe they mean the EU) is flying way under the radar.

Only the Independent features it prominently- just below its top stories- while the Guardian has it down toward the middle of its home page. Other publications either don't feature it at all or consign it to a long downward scroll.

This marks a major shift in the attitude of the press towards Brexit.

For several weeks after the referendum, the reporting was bleak, relentless, and- as it became increasingly detached from reality- utterly ridiculous. It went out of its way to find any small, negative event and magnify it unrealistically. It took things unrelated to Brexit and pretended they were linked. In place of providing analysis, it speculated in a recklessly biased manner, while publishing mawkish first person narratives which really just amounted to 'I'm not happy with the result'. Any good news was treated as a minor miracle and suffixed with a gratingly vapid, 'despite Brexit...'

There seems not to be a satisfactory word to describe this approach to journalism, so let's add a new one to the dictionary:


Gloomwashing was the post-referendum way of reporting, in which all bad events were entirely the fault of the feckless dunderheads who voted Leave, and any good news was the last of its kind and would soon be just a distant memory.

But this miserable phenomenon appears finally, blessedly, to have abated. The number of attendees at Saturday's protest was lower than at the previous march in July, and the news media and general public seem relatively uninterested.

What happened on Saturday is that a small assembly of well off people protested against democracy. They marched on Parliament to have a free and fair vote overturned, and to have the will of the people subverted. Essentially, they were complaining that we have been given too much democracy, that we should have less of a say in the workings of the country, and that the elites know best.

This is a remarkable new precedent in the history of protest movements around the world. It distorts liberal values and spitefully opposes self determination and the ability of adults to make decisions for themselves.

Not surprisingly, this retrograde, elitist collective is garnering very little support. They will have their way because they are the 48%, they claim without irony. It turns out that when you're in a minority and your numbers are dwindling, democracy might have the last word.