Andrew, you write:
IF, however the actual result ends up as close as this, it will be a very telling measure indeed of the antipathy that so many Brits feel for the EU project. It’s important to remember that many of those who voted Remain only did so out of fear of the consequences of Brexit. That’s not exactly an endorsement of ‘ever closer union’.
This, I think, is the key point. I don’t know what the final tallies will reveal, although I suspect that the British have indeed elected to stay in. But I have been struck over the last couple of days by the palpable sense of fear. Sure, there is a solid bloc of British voters that likes the EU — and, for that matter, that dislikes those who are opposed to it. And yet there is a weighty contingent in the middle that has been truly terrified by the “Remain” camp.
I know this because some members of my family are among them. These people don’t like the idea of the EU; they are worried about British sovereignty; and, philosophically and intellectually, they are with the Leavers. But they have been convinced that, if Britain should go, their house will be worth less, their job might be axed, and the economy will collapse. And so they have reluctantly ticked “stay.” How many of these people there are remains to be seen. That Leave seems to have got so close, however, is an achievement indeed. In the years that are to come, it may bear unexpected fruit.