Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Yellow vests for Brexit

Quelle difference! The tremendously effective protests throughout France against the arrogant and aloof president Emmanuel Macron began as a reaction to higher diesel taxes. For the gilded elite in Versailles to impose an environmental policy that would impoverish an already struggling populace was the straw that broke the camel's back. Macron was forced into a humiliating reversal, but the people are not satisfied. Off with his head, they implore.

Compare that to the seemingly apathetic response from the ordinary British folk as a self-serving political establishment contrives to defy Brexit. The home of modern democracy is in danger of constitutional crisis, and a breakdown of faith in our politicians and institutions. Yet demonstrations have been relatively small compared to the well-funded Remain rallies. The 17.4 million Leave voters, who understandably thought that the battle had been won, have yet to find their voice against the institutional pro-EU bias.

Our leaders think they can pull the wool over our eyes with a fake Brexit deal. As Dominic Lawson wrote in the Sunday Times, this is a complacent attitude: 'The British seem prepared to put up with much more than the French…but even a law-abiding people without a revolutionary tradition has limits'. Lawson was referring to ecological taxes, but he might as well as have meant the much more pressing problem of the state failing to fulfil its democratic promise in the largest vote in British political history.

Brexit was largely a phenomenon of the working and lower-middle classes, or the 'Somewheres' identified by David Goodhart.These are the same strata of society demonstrating in Paris, Lyon and Toulouse. As we approach the official withdrawal from the EU, with parliamentarians threatening to cancel Brexit altogether (despite having no mandate to do so), the sense of unrest is becoming palpable, and people wanting to express their anger will look across the Channel to see what street power can achieve.

With their gilets jaunes, part of the mandatory safety equipment carried by motorists, the French demonstrators have created a remarkable unifying symbol. As Professor Robert Tombs remarked: -

'What a symbol this has proved: cheap, universal, classless but with a hint of honest toil, giving those wearing it a modest authority, and making the unnoticed suddenly highly visible. Now the whole world recognises them.Genius!

The movement has spread to other countries, and in December a yellow-vest protest briefly stopped traffic on Westminster Bridge. As a protestor explained to me, this gained much greater publicity than several large marches by Leavers and libertarians in the capital in 2018, which were ignored by the media.

Could the yellow vest phenomenon become a rallying force for Brexit? Undoubtedly the referendum victors have found themselves on the wrong side of a social class divide, with the powerful Remain lobby dominating our political, cultural and educational institutions. The BBC, as explained by Robin Aitken in his revealing book The Noble Liar: How and Why the BBC Distorts the News to Promote a Liberal Agenda, considers the EU as an article of faith. Accordingly, Brexit advocates are treated as anomalies on news and debate shows.

It is time for the common people to step up to the plate. Time to tell the rich Remain conspiracy and condescending elite of Tony Blair, Lord Adonis, Nick Clegg, JK Rowling, Alastair Campbell, Gary Lineker, AC Grayling and other antidemocrats what we really think of them. As the luminous brigade marches, they will set a challenge to the BBC and mainstream media. Will the British yellow vests get the sympathetic coverage afforded to the gilets jaunes? Or will these 'salt-of-the-earth' folk be labelled as 'far-right'?


The media have already failed the test. On Saturday 5th January about 100 yellow-vested protestors gathered at Westminster, and in the days since further mini-protests have occurred near College Green. The Independent described the Saturday protest as 'right wing', while Brexit-supporting political website Guido Fawkes denounced a yellow vest group for shouting at arch-Remainer Anna Soubry as 'far right'. However, the comments below the articles suggest that the media are out of tune with the public. The demonstrators are typically of lower economic strata and if they don't express themselves in the sophisticated language of cultured people in the Westminster bubble that is no invalidation. The test I set in my article above was whether our mainstream media would report a similar movement to that in France with the same level of sympathy for the protestors. On evidence so far, they have chosen double standards over impartial coverage: yellow vests in France good; yellow vests in Britain bad.   

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames