Much of political and social history can be read in terms of the tensions between elites and those they have presumed to govern. Elites have always defended their privileges against demands for accountability, relevance and democratic control. In many cases, their position is defensible. Elites — experts in technology, law, military affairs, planning — are often best placed to guide and lead decision-making. But in modern democracies, people demand that they are also accountable for those decisions.
The European Union is a fundamentally elitist construct. It was designed to eliminate democratic accountability from ‘Member States’ and substitute government by an unaccountable, bureaucratic, technocratic elite. As we have argued before, in practical terms the results have not been wholly bad. But it has destroyed the ability of European peoples to call their rulers to account, and so robbed the EU of the fundamental compact of government by consent.
It is not just a question of political elites. Leading figures in business, finance, academia, the arts and culture are queuing up to tell us that leaving the EU would be wrong. The near-unanimity of the position being adopted by elites of all types should itself give the undecided grounds for scepticism.
Leaving the European Union should be supported by British citizens from across the political spectrum — as our original entry was opposed. For those on the left, leaving would offer the restoration of democracy, accountability to the people and the opportunity to re-energise the progressive agenda. For those on the right, leaving the EU would restore tradition, independence, self-governance and the common law, which have always been the British defences against the abuse of power. All the rest is special pleading.