In other words: They don’t know what to do with what they have unexpectedly gained by pretending to want it?
It’s quite accurate to say that they did not want it. Johnson wanted to be the populist right prime minister who could prove to do his best with the Brussels powers by blaming them for not being able to control immigration. But then this strategy dissolved … not to mention that the districts that voted leave are completely divided as to the reasons why they did it. Most media analysts emphasized the working class voted to leave in the north. I think it is totally exaggerated. Leave would have never won without the substantial contribution of the middle-class conservative vote in southern England as well as the post-industrial vote in the north. They are two quite different situations.
The privileged white right, the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois tend to believe in a libertarian fantasy of a soft tax regime; they consider immigration a burden on the taxpayer, they want an expansion of the neoliberal project and see the E.U. as an obstacle. Conversely, the working class of the north, but not only them — many in the South voted Leave in solidarity with the post-industrial north — seems to have voted for a protectionist industrial economic structure and the promise of a renewal of the manufacturing sector, things they were convinced of by Ukip. Which, though it did not reveal what it might gain by troubling its rich donors, promised the working electorate a radical Keynesian program of the kind Tony Benn and the Labour Party proposed in the ‘80s.
As you can see, the districts that voted Leave were divided on what to vote for. Instead, they united on what to vote against: mass immigration. But they are divided on the reasons why they voted against it: the first group because it drives up the taxes, the other because it lowers their wages. What each of these sectors want from the government in the Brexit context are two entirely different things — opposed even. The Tory and Ukip leadership are well aware of this, which is why they left the scene: They know that is a terribly uncomfortable position.
Why now this desperate attempt to overpower Corbyn? Perhaps his relentlessly critical position of Tony Blair now that the Chilcot Inquiry will be public [the report was released Wednesday]?
It is certainly one of the reasons why people like Alastair Campbell [Blair’s former spin doctor] have lobbied for them to act now. About the putsch, I would say that not even they were convinced it would work, but they had nothing else to try. In the wider context, the Parliamentary Labour Party is in a lose-lose situation. It is comprised of a generation selected by those like Peter Mandelson, people who come from the world of public corporate relations, used to a kind of lobbyist politics that has collapsed and lost any legitimacy in the rest of Europe.