Why the British said no to Europe

by John Pilger

The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy. Millions of ordinary people refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed with open contempt by their presumed betters in the major parties, the leaders of the business and banking oligarchy and the media.
This was, in great part, a vote by those angered and demoralised by the sheer arrogance of the apologists for the “remain” campaign and the dismemberment of a socially just civil life in Britain. The last bastion of the historic reforms of 1945, the National Health Service, has been so subverted by Tory and Labour-supported privateers it is fighting for its life.
A forewarning came when the Treasurer, George Osborne, the embodiment of both Britain’s ancient regime and the banking mafia in Europe, threatened to cut £30 billion from public services if people voted the wrong way; it was blackmail on a shocking scale.
Immigration was exploited in the campaign with consummate cynicism, not only by populist politicians from the lunar right, but by Labour politicians drawing on their own venerable tradition of promoting and nurturing racism, a symptom of corruption not at the bottom but at the top. The reason millions of refugees have fled the Middle East – irst Iraq, now Syria – are the invasions and imperial mayhem of Britain, the United States, France, the European Union and Nato. Before that, there was the wilful destruction of Yugoslavia. Before that, there was the theft of Palestine and the imposition of Israel.
The pith helmets may have long gone, but the blood has never dried. A nineteenth century contempt for countries and peoples, depending on their degree of colonial usefulness, remains a centrepiece of modern “globalisation”, with its perverse socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor: its freedom for capital and denial of freedom to labour; its perfidious politicians and politicised civil servants.
All this has now come home to Europe, enriching the likes of Tony Blair and impoverishing and disempowering millions. On 23 June, the British said no more.
The most effective propagandists of the “European ideal” have not been the far right, but an insufferably patrician class for whom metropolitan London is the United Kingdom. Its leading members see themselves as liberal, enlightened, cultivated tribunes of the 21st century zeitgeist, even “cool”. What they really are is a bourgeoisie with insatiable consumerist tastes and ancient instincts of their own superiority. In their house paper, the Guardian, they have gloated, day after day, at those who would even consider the EU profoundly undemocratic, a source of social injustice and a virulent extremism known as “neoliberalism”.
The aim of this extremism is to install a permanent, capitalist theocracy that ensures a two-thirds society, with the majority divided and indebted, managed by a corporate class, and a permanent working poor. In Britain today, 63 per cent of poor children grow up in families where one member is working. For them, the trap has closed. More than 600,000 residents of Britain’s second city, Greater Manchester, are, reports a study, “experiencing the effects of extreme poverty” and 1.6 million are slipping into penury.
Little of this social catastrophe is acknowledged in the bourgeois controlled media, notably the Oxbridge dominated BBC. During the referendum campaign, almost no insightful analysis was allowed to intrude upon the clichéd hysteria about “leaving Europe”, as if Britain was about to be towed in hostile currents somewhere north of Iceland.
On the morning after the vote, a BBC radio reporter welcomed politicians to his studio as old chums. “Well,” he said to “Lord” Peter Mandelson, the disgraced architect of Blairism, “why do these people want it so badly?” The “these people” are the majority of Britons.
The wealthy war criminal Tony Blair remains a hero of the Mandelson “European” class, though few will say so these days. The Guardian once described Blair as “mystical” and has been true to his “project” of rapacious war. The day after the vote, the columnist Martin Kettle offered a Brechtian solution to the misuse of democracy by the masses. “Now surely we can agree referendums are bad for Britain”, said the headline over his full-page piece. The “we” was unexplained but understood – just as “these people” is understood. “The referendum has conferred less legitimacy on politics, not more,” wrote Kettle. ” … the verdict on referendums should be a ruthless one. Never again.”
The kind of ruthlessness Kettle longs for is found in Greece, a country now airbrushed. There, they had a referendum and the result was ignored. Like the Labour Party in Britain, the leaders of the Syriza government in Athens are the products of an affluent, highly privileged, educated middle class, groomed in the fakery and political treachery of post-modernism. The Greek people courageously used the referendum to demand their government sought “better terms” with a venal status quo in Brussels that was crushing the life out of their country. They were betrayed, as the British would have been betrayed.
On Friday, the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was asked by the BBC if he would pay tribute to the departed Cameron, his comrade in the “remain” campaign. Corbyn fulsomely praised Cameron’s “dignity” and noted his backing for gay marriage and his apology to the Irish families of the dead of Bloody Sunday. He said nothing about Cameron’s divisiveness, his brutal austerity policies, his lies about “protecting” the Health Service. Neither did he remind people of the war mongering of the Cameron government: the dispatch of British special forces to Libya and British bomb aimers to Saudi Arabia and, above all, the beckoning of world war three.
In the week of the referendum vote, no British politician and, to my knowledge, no journalist referred to Vladimir Putin’s speech in St. Petersburg commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June, 1941. The Soviet victory – at a cost of 27 million Soviet lives and the majority of all German forces – won the Second World War.
Putin likened the current frenzied build up of Nato troops and war material on Russia’s western borders to the Third Reich’s Operation Barbarossa. Nato’s exercises in Poland were the biggest since the Nazi invasion; Operation Anaconda had simulated an attack on Russia, presumably with nuclear weapons. On the eve of the referendum, the quisling secretary-general of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, warned Britons they would be endangering “peace and security” if they voted to leave the EU. The millions who ignored him and Cameron, Osborne, Corbyn, Obama and the man who runs the Bank of England may, just may, have struck a blow for real peace and democracy in Europe.

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Mr Pilger
In your day, journalism was an honourable profession. You actually struggled, fought hard, exposed true scandals and did so at no small risk to life and limb sometimes. At least it was for the best of you.
Journalism nowadays is an excuse for those stuck in the permanent student union mindset of ‘be seen to be saying something suitable in the eyes of your masters’. The levels of verbal prostitution is shocking. The levels of ignorance and self-righteousness unbelievable.
This first manifested itself to me in the early 1990s when self-righteous London journalists decided that the ‘blood sport of the year’ was calling mountaineering a ‘death sport’ and reporting every tragedy on the front pages. I was living in Scotland at the time, an active mountaineer and noticed a london by-line running a picture of ‘Glencoe’, which anyone actually active in mountaineering or hill walking along the A82 corridor from Glasgow to Fort William would have recognised immediately as Glen Etive! To say that the journalists’ thundering pulpit speech received more than ‘have you ever been to the winter hills in your life, sonny jim?’ would be inaccurate. The vast majority reading it were ignorant as crap Londoners who’d never been up there either. But they knew best, as they always think they do…….
If you have studied the comments at the bottoms of articles in ‘national newspapers’, at least in those that allow free comment (which is becoming rarer by the year), you would have seen large numbers of bloggers kicking seven bells out of the journalists’ ignorance, illogicality or plain philosophical incoherence. It does kind of say that they were no longer educating and informing, rather using propaganda to pull the wool over the sheep’s eyes?
As for Russia, well Europe is still in its dominance dungeon tied up by its US master. The US hegemonists’ manias have not yet subsided, but history tells us that Russia will survive. It always does……they are tougher, more used to real hardship, than 99% of American and European softies. I pointed out 11 years ago in some satirical writings how pissed off the Russians are about the rewriting of WW II history to make out that the Americans were the heroes. Anyone with any moral compass knows that the Russians sacrificed more than anyone else put together……by all means portray the UK and the US as the great swindlers of the past 100 years, but the greatest sacrifices? Only Russia can win the Gold Medal for that one…….


There’s something very interesting going on elsewhere (like the Pilger Facebook page) in many of the responses to this article among the false ‘left’. They are all ACTUALLY telling Pilger he is wrong for whatever vague reason – mostly a classist or ageist one like the Leavers are too working class or they’re to old and racist to know why they should vote remain. Which is pretty much the same narrative that the MSM are unfairly using. So basically those who don’t like Pilger’s above article are in danger of becoming useful idiots of corporate media, banks, and multinationals who largely financed the Remain side. When Pilger shines a light on a far away injustice like Cambodia or East Timor, all the latte drinking fair-weather lefties on the page love it cos it doesn’t reflect badly on them. But when Pilger writes something, as in the above article, that suddenly points a mirror at the champaign socialist critics of this article – they naturally don’t like it. So my advice to those champagne socialists on any Pilger fanpage is to leave, because sooner or later he is going to publish more uncomfortable truths that you don’t like. Don’t forget, Pilger was also criticised by some on the champaign socialist left in 2008 because he told the harsh truth about what to expect from Obama – and he was proven correct 8 years later. He has a thick skin and he can take vacuous criticism. Love this website by the way.

kevin morris
kevin morris

Thank God for John Pilger!

Petri Krohn

The Western political establishment is delusional and in denial. The totally fail to understand why Brexit happened. Now they are fortifying themselves in their think tanks hoping to turn back the tide.
The EU failed because it is a tool of US aggression. The war on Syria, the sanctions against Russia, sabotaging ‪#‎SouthStream‬ and ‪#‎NorthStream‬ are just the tip of the imperial iceberg.
From the end of the Cold War the US aim has been to encircle and isolate Russia and ultimately destroy it by driving it into civil war. This All-Russian civil war is in fact already happening between Lesser Russia and Greater Russia.
To encircle Russia, the US wanted to militarily occupy Eastern Europe by NATO enlargement and membership. Ultimately, the plan called for extending NATO all the way to Lesser Russia (“Ukraine”) and the Crimea.
The role of the EU and its richer nations was to pay for this military expansion. The US bribed East Europe into NATO with the promise of EU membership and the Western cash flow that came with it.
The EU was never allowed to itself decide on the limits of its eastern expansion. It was always the US that decided what countries would be allowed to join. Any country that accepted American imperialism in the form of NATO was naturally also offered EU membership. Even Turkey was promised membership, even though not a single European nation wanted Turkey in the union.
Imperial overreach finally happened when the US forced Europe to join its war against Russia in the Ukraine.
James Traub writes in Foreign Policy:
It’s Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses
“The Brexit has laid bare the political schism of our time. It’s not about the left vs. the right; it’s about the sane vs. the mindlessly angry.”
James Traub is worried about science-deniers. He suggests that science education could cure them. The late Soviet Union was a country of science-deniers. Denialism is a product of propaganda. Denialists start by denying every word printed by mainstream media. Science denialism is not a product of ignorance about science. It is a sign of a total distrust of the media.

Sam Edi

Ideology vs practicality. It seems ol’ Pilge and his fans here have a problem distinguishing the two.
This is for you.
There was another way to leave the EU, it was just as valid. However, self-destruction seems to have been the order of the day.


It wasn’t the people’s choice to have the referendum, Sam. They just went and voted, and there was no option on the paper for “well, we would like to leave, but not this way.” If this is your issue you need to take it up with the British government as being the ones who decided on the referendum in the first place. It’s absurd to blame the electorate for missing the nuances here, when their only option was yes or no.
And anyway, since it’s only the concept of exit, not the method, that has been voted on, why can’t this “other way” be implemented now? Or is the “other way” of leaving actually Remaining?

M. le Docteur Ralph
M. le Docteur Ralph

We should have had an option that was “get Washington and its cronies out of Europe”
If Brexit leads to the downfall of the Tory party and the Blairite wing of the Labour party, then roll on Brexit, even if I personally would prefer to see a truly democratic and independent Europe.


Another Sore Loser from the Vatican no doubt ?


In passing I observe that Sam Edi, who complains about ‘typos’ in Pilger’s text (more usually known as spelling mistakes), has committed no less than 4 of them, plus at least 3 misplaced ‘yob’s commas, and some seriously mangled syntax, particularly in the 7th para. of his rant! So look who’s talking!

Sam Edi

Typos were in my text, not Pilger’s. Just to clear that up.
Interesting analysis of my comment there. Especially the ‘yob’ comment. Or was that supposed to be ironic?
You could always try coming back with a defence of Pilger and explain rationally how you think I am wrong.


People, you need to leave individuals like Sam Edi to stew. Just say ‘too stupid to be answered’, and leave it there, like a turd on the pavement. Such people hate to be ignored, so let’s ignore them.

Sam Edi

Oh, the pitfalls (and typos) of impassioned scrawlings on a mobile device, James Carless.
The Brexit campaign, along with the ideological rants of the likes of Pilger, George Galloway and Dennis Skinner, failed the working class, those who are to suffer most, last Thursday in possibly the most historic backstab in UK history.
What ideology! What subjectivity! What incredible recklessness!
“Taking are sovereignty back!” (deliberate typo). What does that mean? It means the loss of the last wall of defence to the Human Rights Charter. Theresa May has been rabid in her search for a legal way to eliminate human rights in the UK for the last 6 years. She has just been handed the carte blanche on a plate.
Insinuating comparisons between the EU and the Third Reich – The UK government has been every bit as complicit in the failures of the EU, not least politicians like Farage (€2,000,000 claimed on expenses in 2009) and BoJo the Clown. If it is fascism that scares you, the Third Reich garnered its support from the masses by scapegoating immigrants, minorities and national neighbours. Sound familiar yet?
What was at fault in the EU was not the phantom menace of the dark side of the force behind the scenes, but the failure of both top-end politicos and the public to get involved. Democracy is not just sporadic voting now nd again for the politician who kisses more babies. It requires participation too! You can complain all you like, but what did you do to influence the EP?
This was not just a vote to leave the EU. This was a vote to leave the EU with absolutely no political or economic plan whatsoever! This is financial suicide not only for the UK as an economy, but also for communities, families and anyone in the UK with hope of a brighter future.
The tragic irony here being that after bleating on about the UK taking back control of its economy is, of course, that a large part of the UK’s economic future, in the absence of any trade deals anywhere in the world now, is that it will be largely down to the European Commission (without UK influence) to decide on our future. They will have an axe to grind, and they will be the ones negotiating hard for the best conditions for Europe and not for the UK. And what will the UK negotiate with? Oil? Steel? Coal? The economic picture has changed radically, and the UK has what? International bankers with no allegiance to the UK.
How’s that ideology sounding now?
But the majority of the campaign was based on the immigration issue – which was never an issue! Look at the figures! Look at the percentage of migrants in the UK compared to Spain, for example! It was a racist lie peddaled by the gutter press!
So, yes, Pilger is writing from his ivory tower, and we won’t be seeing him staning in line at the dole office!

Norman Pilon

Dear Sam,
If it’s deliberate, it’s not a typo. This is the only point that you made that I felt competent enough to address in everything that you said, Sam.
I would have addressed other things in your reply, either agreeing or disagreeing, but the subtleties of your reasoning are simply and completely out of my depth, kind of like a red hot knife cutting through the unyielding resistance of the vacuum of space.
Your most devoted reader,
— Norm


You talk about human rights. I’d like to point out a few facts.
The committee that drew up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did not contain a single muslim. The representative of Lebanon was a Greek orthodox christian. The comittee was chaired by the representative of the US, the wife of the US president.
The universal declaration of human rights says people have the right to change religion (article 18), and the equality of man and woman before marriage, while married, and in divorce. So when the declaration was put to vote, Saudi Arabia abstained.
The universal declaration of human rights was proclaimed during the height of the Berlin crisis (1948), during the Berlin airlift. This shows.
When the universal declaration of the human rights says you have the the right to reside where you want, but not the right to a roof above your head, it’s a clear pro-US move.
In the US, you have the right to freely move around; but getting a roof above your head is your problem. In the USSR, you had the right to a roof above your head; the state had the obligation to provide you lodgings; but you could not choose where.
When the universal declaration of the human rights says you have the the right to emigrate. If you emigrate from one country you have to immigrate into another, but the declaration keeps mum about the right to immigrate. That’s a clear pro-US move as well. In the USSR, emigration was restricted; In the US, you have the right to emigrate but immigration is quite restricted. So nobody was surprised when the Russians and Chinese abstained.
On top of that, the universal declaration of human rights has no legal value. It’s a declaration, not a treaty. There’s a European declaration of human rights; but that’s a different beast altogether. The European declaration has 14 articles, while the universal declaration has 30 articles. The European declaration has annexes, but not every country has signed them.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not the distilled wisdom of centuries, merely a bold propaganda move at the height of the cold war. The declaration is less universal than you might think.

M. le Docteur Ralph
M. le Docteur Ralph

Agree with you 100% except for the attack on Pilger. He is an honorable man.
Also I think the result of this vote was not an accident and was deliberately manipulated by Washington for its own motives. Call me a conspiracy theorist but I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop.


Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth.

Sam Edi

Oh, such brave words from a man who won’t lose his job as a direct result of being sucked in by the racist lies of the gutter press. I have lost all respect for Pilger. He mixed conspiracy theory twattery with elementary economics and came up with flag-waving bile. The UK electorate didn’t just chose to leave the EU, they chose the worst possible way to do it! Keep watching Pilge! Maybe you can carry on blaming poverty and misery on the Bilderbergers, although I fear you and Fleet Street are probably more to blame!

James Carless
James Carless

I don’t always agree with everything Pilger says,but I respect his record as a fearless reporter and whistleblower for nigh on 50yrs,someone who hasn’t sold out to the more marketable MSM concensus,hence the reason his documentaries are no longer commissioned or even shown on the tv propaganda sites.
What other ‘better’ option was available to the UK electorate than a referendum which attracted more political interest and involvement than any parliamentary or EU election ?
Whose judgement do you trust the most the fat cat bureaucrats or the people who have to live with the consequences ?
The heavilly biased Guardian actually published the best article on this whole issue yesterday : ‘Meet 10 Britons who voted Brexit’, not the usual jobsworthy reporter opinion piece but from the mouths of well informed voters.
And just for the record,I do still blame the NWO as represented by the Bilderburg group for the wars,wealth disparity and ecological suicidal course we are still heading towards, upsetting the EU corpotracy with Brexit may just be a poke in the eye for them,but the proudest moment in my 40+yrs of political activism.
Perhaps you could enlighten offguardian readers on the benign, secretive policies of either the unelected EU commisars or the Herrenvolk invited to Bilderburg meetings,as most of us ordinary plebs are not party to their discussions,agendas or decision making ?

Norman Pilon

I had thought to reply to Sam with something along these lines:
“A man who won’t lose his job “as a direct result of being sucked in by the racist lies of the gutter press.” Interesting. I hadn’t noticed the racist line being spouted by Pilger. I’ll have to read the piece again, but more attentively the next time through. English isn’t my mother tongue and so I often miss its subtleties, eh. Bad on Pilger, then, for having been sucked into all that bad stuff, eh.
“Oh, yes, and all that conspiracy twattery, too, mixed up with the dasterdly “elementary economics!” I admit that I missed that, too.
“Poor John. Whatever is he on? Or maybe it’s more a case of him being off of something that he should be on?
“And the “flag-waving bile,” too! How utterly despicable. No, really.
“And how dare old John blame poverty and misery on anything but himself. That goes for everyone else, too, I suppose. How dare they all! The Bilderbergers? Really, John? What absolute twattery.
“And to think that I had missed all of this. Thank you, Sam, for your brilliant, careful and penetrating reading of this article.”
But then I thought, “why even bother.” So I didn’t.


So you admit that they were racist lies?
The press took the discussion to the gutter, not those who wanted out of the EU. The reason there are queues of migrants is due to British complicity in Syria and North Africa. The reason they are mostly young men is because they were given a choice, fight for the rebels or be executed.
Meanwhile the EU sees to it that Greece has no future.
What’s not to like?


Another BBC-paid troll drops by to tell the British people they are too stupid to be trusted with choices about their own destiny. They ought to just close their eyes and do as Auntie tells them, eh? And when you see American tank regiments rolling through Estonia and Latvia in the direction of the Russian border, they needn’t worry – just invoke the magic spell of “Philip Hammond knows best”, and all will be well, right? A policy brought to you by the same New Labour sanctimonious murderous filth that cheerfully bombed civilian targets in Serbia over a glass of Chablis and some tapas. What was it your witch Hattie Harridan said? “A justified humanitarian response”. I’ve never heard the mass murder of civilians in NATO carpet bombing called ‘humanitarian’ before. But BBC thugs like you have your own special dictionaries, don’t you, Sam????


Tell us what was “racist”, Sam? Or do NWO filth like you just wheel-out terms like ‘racism’ as a handy catch-all term to deride and rubbish your opponents with empty meaningless trash????????????????????????????

Sam Edi

Look at the figures for EU migration, as migration WAS the corner stone of the Brexit campaign. You will see that the UK accepts less than others in the EU. The island state can’t control its borders? Are they swimming here? Lies! All lies!


Immigration was only one part of the campaign – falsely amplified by the media as the “cornerstone”, so they dismiss all leave voters as bigots and racists.


I called you out on your empty claims of “racism”, Sam,
I see you are utterly unable to explain yourself. We can safely throw your claims, and the rest of your pro-NATO onanism in the bin of lies where they belong.


I should think that in order to reach the UK, most migrants (if they can’t afford the airfares or stow away in Boeing jets’ landing gear or boiler rooms of passenger liners and cargo ships) make their way overland through the rest of the EU.
Until very recently most refugees were registered as such in the first European country where they set foot. That’s why the UK was accepting fewer immigrants than most other European countries.


What conspiracy theory “twattery” are you referring to, Sam?


I predict Sam will not answer this question, or if he does it will be with foggy and generalised insults against a) you, b) “conspiracy theorists”, c) a variety of current and poorly-defined demon-tropes.

Norman Pilon

I think Sam is talking about “all” the conspiracy theories, those like “Operation Gladio,” that have historical form and that if you read Pilger’s article very carefully, is the real and focal reason, among so many other real and focal reasons on so many other different levels, according to Pilger, that the English said no to Europe — (if you are not seeing any even oblique mention of “Operation Gladio” in Pilger’s article, just ask Sam to help you with teasing out the obvious. Oh, that’s right, you sort of already did, ask Sam, I mean. My bad); and Sam will correct if I am wrong, but I think he is also talking about all those other kinds of conspiracy theories, like the Apollo moon landing hoax, which also figures prominently if implicitly in Pilger’s article and admittedly sounds a bit far fetched, but is actually another of Pilger’s many central points being made beneath and above the bland emotional surface of an article that otherwise to the unsuspecting reader appears reasonable and transparently lucid. Isn’t that right, Sam? Sam is a person who obviously reads in depth and on many different levels simultaneously. We need more Sam(s) in this world, to help us make better sense of it all. It’s all very complicated. Sam, however, cuts through all of the confusion, obviously risking his job everyday for not being sucked into anything.