As the UK hurtles headfirst toward its June 23 referendum on a possible exit from the European Union, camps both for and against are neck and neck: according to the latest figures, 44% of Britons say they’ll vote Remain, while 43% Britons say they’ll vote Leave. Those who’d vote to remain in the EU have the backing of most UK and world leaders, intellectuals, artists, celebrities—but who cares?
From J.K. Rowling to Pope Francis, from Stephen Hawking to Barack Obama, hundreds of celebrity voices have called for British voters to vote “remain.” Only a minority are pushing to leave. And who do you trust more? David Beckham or Joan Collins? Barack Obama or Donald Trump? The Financial Times or the Sun? The Pope or Bryan Adams?
A jokey chart circulating on Facebook has attempted to compile all the people and institutions that, as the day of the Brexit referendum approaches, have come out in support of either side. Don’t take it too seriously (Putin has not said anything specific about Brexit, and “ISIS Newsletter,” is hard to verify, though David Cameron claims that both want the UK out). But it’s a great illustration of the disconnect between “expert” and popular opinion. The world’s most trusted names support staying in the EU, but the British are hell-bent on thinking for themselves, thank you very much.
At last count, 471 members of UK parliament, both Labor and Conservative, have also expressed their support for the Remain campaign, while only 56 say they’ll will vote Leave. But they, like the big-name Remain supporters on the above list, are the establishment. And Europeans, from the UK supporters of Nigel Farage to Italy’s Cinque Stelle voters, don’t trust the establishment these days.
A populist movement like the Leave campaign might sell voters on false solutions to complex problems, but it also shouts what the world elite has failed to hear until now: People are scared by the globalization of economic, conflict and health crises, and not only do they think their ruling class isn’t offering good enough solutions, they think they’re the problem.