Good government means expert have the power to put their expertise to use

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


As you flick through the New European, you eventually leave Brexit behind for something that would have been unthinkable before 2016: the “Eurofile” section, a weekly paean to Europe and its glories. Another section makes for an equally odd sight in a British newspaper: pages of articles by academics, under the heading “Expertise”.

Expertise matters to remainists. They don’t merely admire it – that admiration is an important part of how they define themselves. “A lot of remainers are proud to say that they embrace complexity,” says Ian Dunt, a journalist and presenter of Remainiacs. At the People’s Vote march, a man in a lab coat was handing out flyers on behalf of Scientists for EU: “for those who believe in experts,” he said.

In their hunger for expertise, remainists have gravitated towards lawyers, such as David Allen Green and Jolyon Maugham, who have become celebrities in their corner of Twitter. Allen Green, a solicitor and legal commentator, plays the clear-eyed realist, slightly outside the fray; Maugham, a tax barrister, windmill enthusiast and hardened critic of Jeremy Corbyn, is more of a troublemaker, like a maverick general lobbing grenades and plotting sorties. For remainists, lawyers – and trade experts such as Dmitry Grozoubinski and David Henig – are an antidote to “cakeism”: with their understanding of how the world really works, they are the ones best equipped to lay bare the madness of Brexit.

Behind this solemn reverence for experts lies the belief, or at least the forlorn hope, that if leavers were only forced to confront the facts on Brexit, they would be overwhelmed by the weight of evidence. It’s a view reinforced by listening to James O’Brien’s radio show. Within the remainist ecosystem, O’Brien is simultaneously the star pupil, the most popular kid in class and the playground bully: remainists worship him for the way he shreds leavers’ arguments. As his impatience mounts, he drops his head in his hands – a pose that encapsulates how it feels to be a remainist today. “Can we all agree that it’s time to rename remain and leave?” he tweeted earlier this year. “I suggest right and wrong.”

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