Been reading big words;
February 2019For Leave voters the Brexit referendum of 23 June 2016 was invested with hopes and dreams, of refound sovereignty and control, freedom and liberty, subjectivity and agency. Brexit was an opportunity for both new beginnings and a reclamation of British essences. Winning, however, has not provided the closure promised, and today Leave supporters often appear decidedly anxious and angry. Bringing together literature on ontological security with Lacanian understandings of the (always incomplete) nature of subjectivity, this paper provides an explanation of how it is that ’Brexit’ became invested with such high hopes of fulfilment, but also why the populist ’fantasies’ underpinning Brexit have inevitably fallen short. However, while closure around ontological security and subjectivity is impossible, the paper shows how the promise of fulfilment (and its inevitable failure) can be politically seductive and mobilizing, is a central strategy of populist politics, but as such is also one that is only likely to exacerbate the ontological anxieties and insecurities upon which populist politics preys.