John Harris

Journalist & Author

A nation ‘bored of Brexit’ risks sleepwalking into disaster | John Harris

Voters are switching off from the sound and fury as Brexit hits fever pitch. But this indifference could redefine our politics

Just before Christmas, I spent a day in Cowley, a working-class suburb of Oxford where a factory now owned by BMW manufactures that great British icon, the Mini. The plant closes its doors for an annual “maintenance period”, usually timed to coincide with local schools’ summer holidays. But this year, amid the company’s concerns about Britain’s future relationship with Europe, the shutdown will not only be longer than usual but is scheduled to begin the day after we formally leave the European Union – a decision taken, says the company, to “minimise the risk of any possible short-term parts supply disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit”.

You might imagine the surrounding streets would be full of anxiety and urgency. But once BMW had declined my request to visit the factory and I had resigned myself to long hours spent vox-popping, I was not entirely surprised to find the complete opposite: questions about Brexit being met with an exasperated indifference, as if it were something in which people were barely interested.

Related: Chris Grayling denies ‘void’ in government over Brexit plan B

Related: Corbyn promises no-confidence motion against May ’soon’

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