In the run-up to the referendum of June 2016, Michael Gove was confronted by Faisal Islam of Sky News with a long list of organisations that had warned of dire consequences if the UK voted not to remain in the EU. The co-leader of the Vote Leave campaign retorted: ‘I think the people of this country have had enough of experts from organisations with acronyms saying they know what is best.’ Such experts, he opined, ‘are distant, unaccountable and elitist, and have their own interests at heart’.
Near the top of Islam’s list was the Bank of England, whose governor, Mark Carney, has been called in my own magazine, The Spectator, a ‘dark overlord’ of Project Fear – which is the label attached by Leavers to officialdom’s pessimistic consensus. More notoriously, another group of experts, namely three of the most senior judges in the land, were labelled ‘Enemies of the People’ by the Daily Mail for ruling that the government would need the consent of Parliament before triggering Article 50.
The referendum campaign and its aftermath have highlighted the issue at the heart of Unelected Power: namely, the extent to which it is safe for democracies to delegate authority to, and rely on the wisdom of, unelected technocrats. Indeed, arguments around Brexit have brought this question to public