Brexit and the politics of truth

David Marsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines one key aspect of Brexit, the link between Brexit and anti-politics. I shall argue that anti-politics led, in large part, to Brexit, but, crucially, that the latter will increase the former. In my view, anti-politics is rooted in distrust of the political elite and an almost total rejection of the idea, which, historically, was at the core of the British democratic settlement, that 'government knows best'. This rejection was obviously, to a significant extent, based on successive governments' failures to deal with complex contemporary problems; for example, climate change and immigration. However, the key point is that, while these issues are very complex, too often, for electoral reasons, governments claim to have 'answers'. In this sense, they don't, for various reasons, tell citizens 'the truth'. In this context, Brexit is likely to make the situation much worse because it was offered as a simple solution to complex problems, problems which clearly it is unlikely to solve (immigration being a prime example). As such, an increase in anti-politics is very likely and this will pose a major threat for the future of democracy in the UK. The first step to address the problem is to recognise its nature, but in the last section of the article I explore possible ways forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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