Anal­y­sis

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Brexit -

Pol­i­tics is a no­to­ri­ously un­pre­dictable busi­ness and ca­pa­ble of spring­ing a sur­prise when least ex­pected.

The ref­er­en­dum re­sult was an oc­ca­sion when, for once, the word seis­mic seems en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate.

The fall­out has changed the po­lit­i­cal land­scape in the UK pro­foundly.

No one saw it com­ing, even the book­mak­ers.

David Cameron rolled the dice – some would say need­lessly – con­fi­dent that his num­bers would come up. They didn’t.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn, whose luke­warm sup­port to stay looks like trig­ger­ing a party lead­er­ship con­test, could also be out.

Nigel Farage, beam­ing like a Cheshire cat, has emerged stronger when many ex­pected him to be cast into the po­lit­i­cal waste­land. As to ex­pla­na­tions? Un­ease over im­mi­gra­tion was a fac­tor in Kent, where a steady in­flux of mi­grants and asy­lum seek­ers over the years has changed some of our most im­pov­er­ished com­mu­ni­ties.

It was also closely tied to con­cerns about pres­sure on pub­lic ser­vices, such as schools and GPs.

Throw in the feel­ing among many the UK had ceded pow­ers to the EU, an un­ac­count­able or­gan­i­sa­tion where de­ci­sion­mak­ers can­not be held to ac­count, and you have a toxic mix.

Kent con­founded the ar­gu­ment op­po­si­tion to the EU was con­fined to poorer ar­eas.

There was con­sid­er­able an­tipa­thy in some of the county’s leafi­est subur­ban towns, in­clud­ing Sevenoaks.

Did vot­ers, un­en­cum­bered by any party loy­alty, used the poll to take out their pent-up frus­tra­tion at the po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment? Pos­si­bly. The re­main camp took to heart the adage that neg­a­tive cam­paign­ing may be un­pleas­ant but works.

It of­fered a re­lent­lessly down­beat prospec­tus in which ev­ery­thing that could go wrong, would – short of plague and pesti­lence.

Vot­ers do tend to see through this dark pro­pa­ganda.

And may have used their power in the polling booth to reg­is­ter their dis­dain.

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