There is only one single and simple cause of Boris Johnson’s rise to power and his attempts to bypass parliament to Get on With™ Delivering Brexit™ Getting it Over With™ and Moving on to the Domestic Agenda that People Really Want to See™. People just don’t believe that the state would inflict harm on its citizens. Not out of any trust in authority or in the honour and dignity of their elected representatives (as if!), but because they don’t believe the state can do anything at all. Everything just is as it is, will continue to be as it is, and politicians can’t do anything to change it.
This may be in part because people generally think that politicians are a bunch of corrupt money-grabbing bastards. This may be in part because it is just hard for us to imagine change at all on any level. We all believe that we will wake up tomorrow, the sun will rise, our friends and family will all still be there to greet us, and our job, if we have one, will be waiting for us. But, whereas we acknowledge the power of the sun to explode, our friends and family to pass on, and our boss to fire us tomorrow, people don’t seem to believe anymore that the state can do anything at all.
This belief in the powerlessness of the state to do anything to change society is most dangerous in our tolerance of this government of Brexit-idolators. (Yes, I do mean “tolerance”. Sure there is a petition to prevent parliament’s closure, there is a march, but no one is actually taking up arms to protect their right to insulin. The British public will, following liberal tradition, tolerate the opinions of those who want to punch both themselves and everyone else in the face on November 1st 2019.) It’s most dangerous with Brexit, for sure. It’s at work in normal politics as well though. Does anyone really believe that a government could abolish tuition fees? Does anyone believe that the railways could be nationalised? Does anyone believe that Andy Burnham can solve homelessness in Greater Manchester? Does anyone even believe that their local councillor can get the potholes outside their house repaired? And if you don’t believe the state can do that, why would you believe that one man with stupid hair could destroy their livelihood?
Voter apathy (remember when we used to complain about that), was always about lack of faith in change, whether it was expressed as “All parties are the same!” or “It’ll never happen!”. Dismissing the proofs of experts as Project Fear™ was always going to work on those who have never believed the state can improve their lives. Only people who believe in the power for change for the better can believe in power for change for the worse.
In short, the deep-seated belief that “everything will be just fine” is the reason why everything is not fine, and why it’s probably going to get worse. And, because of the sovereignty of the UK head of state, there is nothing that anyone can do even if they do change their minds.