7:56 PM - This Was the Day the British People Defied Their Jailers
It's impossible to overstate how remarkable this victory is. Twenty years ago, Euroscepticism was a backbench Tory rebellion and a political cult. It was a dispute located firmly on the Right with little appeal to Labour voters. It took Ukip to drag it into the centre of political life – given momentum by the issue of immigration – and slowly it has emerged as a lightning rod for anti-establishment activism.
Even so, the circumstances of the referendum were not ripe for victory. David Cameron only called it to hold his own party together; and once it was called, he decided to turn the British and global establishment against it. Out came the Treasury, the IMF, even the President of the United States to argue that Britain had to stay. This was textbook politics, how things used to be done – and it worked back in 1975 when the UK voted overwhelmingly on good advice to stay in the Common Market.
But this time the establishment consensus coincided with a historic loss of faith in the experts. These were the people who failed to predict the Credit Crunch, who missed the greatest economic disaster to hit us since the Great Depression. And we were supposed to believe them? Slowly the consensus came to resemble not just a conspiracy but, worse, a confederacy of dunces.
Even so – even as Leave pulled ahead in the polls – it was still impossible to think it could win. The murder of Jo Cox convinced me that it wouldn't. I suspected that it would cement in most people's minds a link between Brexit and risk: Leave forced this referendum, Leave created the febrile debate, Leave had to bear some responsibility for the air of chaos. Even I would've preferred the referendum to be cancelled. The whole thing made me feel sick to my stomach. There was talk of Leave support wilting and turnout dropping, while Remain was surging. Remain's Project Fear evolved, inexplicably, into Project Tolerance. Now a vote for the EU was a vote for love. And if the British
couldn't be terrified into voting Remain, surely they could be guilted into doing it?