Theresa May says the ‘liberal elite’ is sneering at those who voted for Brexit. Well, I reserve the right to sneer

I know many of these people well. Their talent didn’t take them very far; their hard work even less so. Three months ago, they got their hands on the wrecking ball and vented their frustration

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From the people who brought you “post-truth politics”, the “dead cat strategy”, “Project Fear” and “Talking Britain Down” now comes the latest trend in political punditry parlance. Welcome to the age of the “sneer”.

You’ll have heard it a lot. Sneering, in case you weren’t already aware, is what the “liberal elites” do when they have the temerity to question the wisdom of a course of action that has so far detonated the pound, had foreign investors threatening legal action against the government, and appointed Nigel Farage as de facto Ambassador of no-longer-Great Britain to the United States.

In The Telegraph this weekend, Simon Heffer congratulated Theresa May by likening her to Enoch Powell, telling the media to “stop whining about Brexit” and to stop “sneering at the majority who voted in the referendum”.

Theresa May say's 'come on' towards politicians trying to reverse Brexit

In the months that have followed the historic vote, the most enthusiastic media backers of Brexit have devoted their energies to such lofty matters as the return of blue passports, the metric system, champagne in pint-sized bottles and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

To suggest such things are not worth the various prices that have been paid – the utterly unprecedented trashing of the reputation of the nation in the eyes of the wider world, to name but one – is, again, to sneer.

Had it been the Labour Party that had dragged sterling to a 31-year low, Heffer and his like would of course not be sneering at all. It is not in their nature. That disastrous currency slide, by the way, according to Heffer, is the fault of financial analysts or “teenage scribblers” as he calls them. “The ignorance these teenagers have of economic and political fundamentals is compounded by their reliance on computer algorithms,” he writes. Whatever you do, don’t sneer at the campaign to bring back the Royal Yacht, but do sneer at a global financial system that mysteriously doesn’t dance to the tune of a man in his mid-fifties who’s never done anything but scribble all his life, and whose ignorance of its workings is nothing short of mind-boggling.

Because the 52 per cent, you must understand, are not to be sneered at. Theresa May is to rebuild Britain in their image, and quite right too.

May wants Britain “to be a country where it doesn’t matter where you were born, who your parents are, where you went to school or what your accent sounds like.”

It is almost a week since the Conservative Party rose as one in the Birmingham Symphony Hall to applaud a Conservative Prime Minister pledging to bring an end to a Britain in which “advancement is still too often determined by wealth or circumstance, by an accident of birth rather than talent, by privilege not merit”.

How long will it be then, before Theresa May, say, raises inheritance tax, or abolishes the Royal Family – both measures the reborn party of anti-privilege would surely take to their feet to applaud?

So far are we down the rabbit hole of political absurdism it almost seems unsophisticated, over-simplistic, to point out the deafening ridiculousness of it all.

Yet we remain in the embryonic stages of national madness. If there is comfort to be found, it is that all of these nebulous promises will be broken on the wheel of Brexit in any event. The likelihood of May’s Britain ever making it to a stage advanced enough for it to become unignorably self-evident that the type of Britain she purports to hate is also the one she seeks to create is slim indeed.

I hope you’ll indulge me a personal example. Twenty-five years ago, immediately post-Thatcher, when I first walked up the drive of my selective state school in Havering, east London (70 per cent Leave), it’s possible we were living in the country Theresa May would like to recreate, “where all that should matter is the talent you have and how hard you’re prepared to work”.

Selective state education, of the type she wishes to bring back, changed my life. My own achievements, small though they are, owe no debt to anything or anyone beyond my own limited amount of talent and hard work.

Now I am, kind of, a commentator, and May quite accurately diagnosed my views. “Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public,” she said. “They find your patriotism distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, your views about crime illiberal.”

Yes, I absolutely do. But then came a point at which I departed from her diagnosis. I do not find the “fact that more than 17 million voters decided to leave the European Union simply bewildering.”

I know many of these people well. Their talent didn’t take them very far; their hard work even less so. Three months ago, they got their hands on the wrecking ball and vented their frustration. Good for them. But I never imagined a Conservative government coming to take up their cause, to defend them from the apparent sneering of those who actually do want to get on in life.

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