The British are so arrogant that, in our hearts, we refuse to accept that fascist populism could happen here. We fondly imagine our democracy is safe forever.
"Mother of Parliaments!"
"We saw off Hitler!"
"Too bloody-minded to put up with tinpot dictators!"
I want to tell you that we are rushing headlong towards the end of democracy, and we're too blind to see it.
There are Labour Party members who call themselves "socialists", who profess to care about the low-paid, about the NHS, about schools and new homes, about "building a Britain that works for the many, not the few". They must know by now that Brexit will mean a weaker economy whichever party is in power and so less money for those laudable things they say they care about. And yet these people are happy to let Brexit damage Britain for a generation or more, because they think a damaged country will hasten a Labour government. That's more than cynical. That's sick.
Moreover it won't work. The voters will notice that Labour was complicit in letting Brexit happen. Labour might hide behind the "respecting the referendum result" mantra, but even though the flaws of the 2016 referendum are well-known (financial fraud, Russian interference, the exclusion of the 3 million people most affected by Brexit), "Leave" didn't even attain 50% of the electorate, let alone two-day thirds of the vote. Labour had the opportunity to give the voters the final say on the actual Brexit deal, rather than the Brexiteer bullshit that was promised in 2016, and it has made a deliberate decision not to even discuss the possibility.
So make no mistake: Labour will be damaged by this catastrophic error, just as Britain is damaged.
There are Conservative Party members who call themselves "One Nation Tories" or "Thatcherites" or "traditionalists", who claim to want a strong Britain: united, prosperous and geo-politically powerful. They must know by now that leaving the single market is disastrous for business; that leaving the customs union means ripping up hard-won free trade agreements that we cannot hope to improve upon; that leaving the EU requires a massive permanent expansion in bureaucracy to manage trade; that the effects on Northern Ireland and Gibraltar are profoundly damaging to the UK's unity and influence; that the costs of Brexit will require higher taxes; that the brain drain will severely reduce Britain's capacity for innovation; and that the divisions created in society by the referendum are deep and long-lasting.
The Conservative Government has a simple face-saving way of avoiding this disaster: give the voters a final say on the Brexit terms, with an option to remain in the EU. But the only reason this isn't happening is because Theresa May has made it the party line not to countenance this get-out.
Once the reality of life outside the EU becomes apparent, the voters won't blame themselves. They will blame the party which started the disaster, which pushed it through in the face of all entreaties from British businesses and institutions, and which refused to pursue an obvious solution. They will say Conservatives put party before country.
And before the smaller parties start to rub their hands with glee at the blame that will accrue to Labour and the Conservatives, the voters see you trying to stoke the emotive divisions in the big parties for political gain, rather than trying to build cross-party consensus for a solution.
All politicians will be brought into disrepute by this disaster created in Westminster. Complete disillusionment with politics will become the norm. Anger at this self-inflicted wound. Anger at the world for laughing at us. Diminished services, damaged institutions, a failing economy, an angry underclass screaming "Betrayal!", struggling businesses, an ignored intelligentsia fleeing for a better life elsewhere, a political class unable to do anything other than bicker...
And who will gain from chaos?