An eminent British academic has warned that a political status quo defined by an increasingly insular and out of touch political class could be shattered by the rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

John Gray, an Emeritus Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics (LSE), pointed out that while around a third of MPs from the Labour Party came from working-class families in 1945, when that party won its first ever majority government, today “only around four percent of [all] MPs come from this background.”

Professor Gray, who was himself born into a working-class family in Northern England, observed that “Many of our elites live in a few inner London boroughs, sending their children to the same schools and mixing almost exclusively with each other” in an article published in the Mail on Sunday.

“Most of those who govern us have only a sketchy idea of how most people in the country live,” the scholar asserted, suggesting that “Places like Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland might as well be in a far-off country” to them.

“That is why the [Brexit] referendum result was such a shock to these introverted elites,” he explained — before adding that “The next stage of the Brexit drama will be an even greater shock.”

Gray described how “once-loyal foot-soldiers in the constituencies are deserting” the governing Conservative Party, also known as the Tories, in particular — “chiefly to [Nigel] Farage”.

A large majority of the Tory Party’s ordinary members and supporters voted for Brexit in 2016, but most of its MPs are Remainers, and an overwhelming majority of Theresa May’s Cabinet — including the Prime Minister herself — are too.

While the party is nominally committed to delivering Brexit, the Prime Minister pushed the Brexit-supporting MPs she appointed as her first and second Secretaries of State for Brexit out of the negotiating process with the European Union, leading to their resignations, and has twice delayed the country’s departure from the bloc — originally set for March 29th 2019.

This has seen Farage’s new Brexit Party surge from nothing to the top of the polls for the upcoming European Parliament elections, in which the United Kingdom will now have to participate, while the Tories have collapsed to a point where not even a fifth of voters appear to be backing them — and some 40 percent of their own elected councillors are reportedly planning to vote for Farage.

Professor Gray’s assessment of the situation was clear: “The Conservatives are being punished for not delivering Brexit, and Labour for turning its back on working-class Leave voters and toying with a second referendum,” he asserted.

“What used to be called the centre ground of British politics is shrinking and disappearing. Change UK – the new centre party formed by Chuka Umunna and other defectors from Labour and the Tories – polled nine per cent,” he noted elsewhere.

“[I]t is far from clear that a party aiming to reverse Brexit has much of a future. For all its name, [Change UK] is committed to returning to the past – the status quo against which millions protested when they voted Leave,” he added.

Indeed, the CUK party’s weak showing in the polls appears to lend some credence to the claims of some critics that the political “centre” is something of a fiction, so named to suggest that anyone who fails to subscribe to a particular set of beliefs on sovereignty, mass migration, and so on is on the political “fringes”.

The result Brexit referendum, in particular, would seem to suggest that the so-called “centre” does not represent mainstream opinion, as the name suggests — as it enjoyed the support of fewer than half of voters.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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