I joked on Twitter the other day that if Donald Trump wins the presidency, our arrogant and out of touch ruling class will find a way to demand a second election.

Well, when it comes to the behavior of the establishment, it looks like we shouldn’t make jokes like that -- because they have a horrible tendency of coming true.

In the UK on June 23 this year, 17.4 million people voted in a referendum to leave the EU. It was the biggest democratic mandate for anything, ever, in British history.

The decision, now famously known as ‘Brexit’, was fought by the political, media and business establishment with all the ferocity that the elites here in America are now displaying in their desperate attempts to stop Donald Trump getting to the White House.

In Britain, the people won and the establishment lost. So of course the arrogant ruling class didn’t just leave it there: the people may have spoken, but they came up with the wrong answer. A second opinion was required.

In Britain, the people won and the establishment lost. So of course the arrogant ruling class didn’t just leave it there: the people may have spoken, but they came up with the wrong answer. A second opinion was required.

That was duly delivered Thursday, as a British court ruled in favor of a legal challenge to the process that UK prime minister Theresa May has set out for implementing the referendum result. Technically, any country wanting to leave the EU has to do so by invoking Article 50 of the EU’s rules. Theresa May has said that the referendum result provides the necessary democratic mandate to do that.

 

But Thursday, the court overruled her. It stated that the decision has to be made by the British parliament. It’s a bit like the Supreme Court telling the president that he can’t take action without congressional approval.

Sounds reasonable, no?

Superficially, yes. Many of us who argued in favor of Brexit did so precisely in defence of this idea of parliamentary sovereignty -- that the democratically-elected British parliament should have the final say on what happens in Britain, not the unelected, unaccountable EU.

There’s just one problem. In advance of the EU referendum, parliament did have its say. It did hold a vote -- and it decided by a six to one margin to put the final decision on leaving the EU in the hands of the people, and to abide by the referendum result. During the campaign itself, the official government voting information distributed to millions of homes said clearly that “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide”.

Here’s the bottom line: the establishment forces were aghast that they lost the referendum, and are now doing everything they can to stop, slow down or otherwise frustrate the will of the people, who clearly want Brexit.

But I can tell you now, one way or another, sooner or later, Britain will leave the EU -- whatever procedural roadblocks the establishment tries to put in the way.

First, the government will appeal today’s court ruling. If it loses that appeal, it will indeed need to go back to parliament and get specific authority to trigger Article 50 and begin the process of leaving the EU.

Then, members of parliament will be faced with the choice of voting their own opinion (which would be to stay in the EU -- that’s why the establishment has used this tactic of throwing the decision back to lawmakers) or voting the way their constituents voted in the referendum.

I do not believe that elected representatives will be so stupid as to overturn the democratically expressed verdict of the British people. But even in the unlikely event that they do, it will simply mean that they themselves are voted out in the next election.

So all this back and forth with court cases and technical challenges is, in the end, a total waste of time and a distraction from what should be the UK’s priority right now: action to create jobs and opportunity in an open, globally engaged post-Brexit British economy.

The establishment’s pointless and counterproductive refusal to accept the verdict of the people shows that Britain has a detached and decadent ruling class that can't focus on real things affecting real people, and instead indulges its own vanity while ignoring the economic and social hardship faced by millions of people on a daily basis.

American voters, take note.

Steve Hilton is co-founder and CEO of Crowdpac, a Silicon Valley political tech start-up, and teaches at Stanford University. He was formerly senior adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron. He is the author of "More Human: Designing a World Where People Come First" (PublicAffairs, April 26, 2016). Hilton is a graduate of New College, Oxford University, where he studied philosophy, politics, and economics. He now lives in California with his wife and young family. Follow him on Twitter @SteveHiltonx.