Why the British really voted for Brexit

It’s Brexit Day. It’s done. And right on cue, I have a piece in today’s Irish Times:

It was as early as July 2016 when one British national broadsheet warned of “Brexhaustion”, claiming the UK public were being crippled by Brexit fatigue. This was a mere three weeks after the EU referendum. Now nearly four years later, as we approach the beginning of the end – or is it the end of the beginning? – the perplexities of Britain’s exit from the EU may have finally overwhelmed the British psyche. The British body politic is not so much hoping to “Get It Done” as much as it is aching to “Make It Stop”.

Boris Johnson himself is said to have now banned the B-word altogether, in just the latest example of Brexit mind games. Brexit has provided a compendium of case studies in political psychology. Perception has mattered more than reality. With the closing down of David Cameron’s “Nudge Department” to make room for Boris Johnson’s “assorted weirdos”, the headshrinkers have well and truly moved into Whitehall.

All that theorising about “imperial hang-ups”, “sado-populism”, and “acts of national self-harm” makes for entertaining copy, but much of it is speculative punditry rather than evidence-based knowledge. There is actually quite a lot of science to consider when looking at the psychology of Brexit. Newly emerging datasets can help us reverse-engineer the chaos…

You can read the full article on the Irish Times website.

[And if you like what you see there, do feel free to check out The Psychology of Brexit: From Psychodrama to Behavioural Science, still available from all the good booksellers.]

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And while we’re at it…


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Presume not that I am the thing I was.”

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