by Nick Cohen
But there is a limit to how far you can rationalise the irrational. Why is Theresa May rushing ahead with Article 50? Why isn’t she at least trying to keep the country together by seeking a soft Brexit? Why most of all isn’t she preparing the country (what’s left of it) for hard times and hard choices? Rational politicians instinctively lower expectations. Yet there’s no warning of blood, sweat, toil and tears ahead from May. Not even a hint. Her chancellor gives a budget in which he barely mentions Brexit. Her backbenches turn on him over a minor tax rise on the self-employed, as if they think that is the worst that can befall the country. Nowhere are ministers preparing the public for the possibility that we cannot leave a club while retaining the benefits of membership.
It is more convincing to see the Brexiteers as women and men in the grip of a cult, as deep as the Corbyn cult on the left. In cults, said Stephen Pinker ‘fantastical beliefs are flaunted as proof of one’s piety’. Today you have to show that you believe the fantastically optimistic beliefs about Brexit to prove your devotion to the Church of the Latter Day Tories.