Thank David Cameron - after all HE was the man who freed us from EU, says STEPHEN POLLARD

For the chattering classes, this is a damning indictment of the man. And it explains why his book has been met with such relentless hostility. They can never forgive him for destroying British membership of the EU and allowing what they see as uncouth xenophobes to shatter our politics.

They are so wrapped up in their own self-righteousness that they cannot see what is obvious to the rest of us – that their reaction exposes the very contempt for democracy and voters that sparked the Leave vote in 2016. Far from being some sort of bogeyman whose name must be damned for eternity, David Cameron deserves praise for giving the British people the chance to tell politicians what we want from them, rather than treating us with the same con- tempt as his predecessors, John Major and tony Blair. Throughout the Major and Blair years – indeed from Mrs Thatcher until Mrs May – the main parties were committed to EU membership, so voters had no way to express their disillusion with it, other than through fringe groups, such as UKIP. 

Europe was never treated as an important issue at general elections because there was no serious difference between the parties.

But the fact it was never a key policy didn’t mean it wasn’t important. Rather, it was a product of the failure of our politics. Because the forces that led to a Leave vote in 2016 did not come out of nowhere.

They were real and – as the ballot showed – were shared by a majority of voters.

In other words, there had been a serious and unsustainable split in British politics from the 1980s between the main parties and voters. On the eU, the parties did not reflect the views of most voters. While the political establishment was, and remains, firmly behind EU membership, voters had other ideas. Not merely unsustainable, this was also dangerous.

When voters feel ignored by the political system they turn not just to populists, such as Donald Trump but to extremists, as we are now seeing across Europe. This is the crucial point that critics of the referendum and Mr Cameron refuse to address.

Brexit did not come from nowhere, and neither did David Cameron’s decision to offer a referendum.

The forces that prompted a majority of voters to demand that we leave the EU were – and remain – very real and deeply ingrained. And they had no mainstream party to support.

Try this thought experiment. To paraphrase John Lennon: Imagine all the people, living without a referendum. Imagine there’s no Brexit.

Do you think that the alienation from politics, the feeling that whole communities, towns and regions were being ignored, the concern over unfettered immigration, would all have just fallen away? Quite the opposite, surely. I find it hard to believe that such feelings and forces would not now be taking a far more unpleasant and worrying turn.

It’s no wonder that the opinion polls gave remain a sizeable lead. These ignore people who usually don’t vote. But they did vote in the referendum. For the first time, they knew their vote would count.

The referendum gave people their first and only chance to direct the political elites to act as they demanded – and it shocked the pollsters and the politicians. Now look at what has happened since.

Could anything be more calculated to worsen this feeling of alienation and despair that politics offers nothing, than the three-year refusal of MPs to act on that 2016 instruction?

Boris Johnson was in Luxembourg yesterday to press for a deal. How the political classes have sneered at him from day one of his premiership.

They seem mystified the polls show the Conservatives pulling ahead.

I am no great fan of the PM. But his commitment to leave the eU on October 31 is a vital step on the road to re-establishing trust in our political system. Mrs May repeatedly promised we would leave on March 29, a pledge that was broken with scarcely any hesitation (although not wholly her fault).

Nothing is more important now than mending that broken trust. But it’s vital to remember that the roots of all this long pre-date the referendum. It was the cause of the referendum, not its consequence.

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