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‘Brexit’ and the Collapse of Public Trust

Sebastian Payne comments on the lack of trust in institutions and leaders fueling the movement towards “Brexit”:

Some of the divides are stark. Economists have a net trust rating of 41 among Remain voters, whereas Leave voters have them on -36. People from the Bank of England have a 34 rating among Remainers, versus -45 among Leavers. But significantly, Remain voters appear to be sceptical too. Politicians from Britain have a -45 trust rating among pro-EU supporters, compared with -73 among Brexiters.

The headline numbers from the YouGov survey are also quite striking. When asked about statements from Cameron, 70% overall said they don’t trust what he says while only 19% do. Most Remain voters (58%) don’t trust the statements of the leading advocate for the Remain campaign, and of course among Leave voters that figure almost thirty points higher. Cameron hasn’t helped himself in this regard by making absurd and risible claims about what “Brexit” would mean for the world, but he probably couldn’t have been trusted very much before the campaign began to have numbers as terrible as this.

Other politicians and ex-politicians suffer from a similar problem, albeit not as great as Cameron’s. As many people in the U.K. distrust Gordon Brown’s statements as trust them, and this divide holds true among the Labour voters that he has been desperately trying to win over in recent days. The people that the Remain campaign has to win over don’t believe what their spokesmen say, and even some of their own supporters don’t believe them. The pro-Leave politicians don’t fare much better (63% don’t trust what Farage says and 58% don’t trust Johnson), but they have the advantage that they are arguing for the side that represents the rejection of what most of the political class wants. When all politicians are distrusted more or less equally, the side that tells you to distrust and/or ignore elite opinion will tend to win more support.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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