Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has stunned political leaders, financial markets, and all those holding the theological view that EU-style governance is the world’s inevitable future. For those certain about global governance through international or “supranational” organizations, British withdrawal was unthinkable.
Then, on June 23, the British people were actually asked their views on EU membership. The “Leave” position prevailed by a comfortable 4 percent margin, 52-to-48 (more than 1.25 million votes than “Remain” received), overcoming enormous hurdles. The British political establishment, the university faculties, most of the financial-services industry, and key media outlets relentlessly argued the “Remain” position.
Prime Minister David Cameron used the entire force of the British government to produce reports, statements, media interviews, and direct communications with voters insisting that “Brexit” would be an economic and political catastrophe. Britain’s trade would collapse, they said. London would cease to be a world financial capital. Foreign investment would shun Britain. No good could come from withdrawal. So excessive were Cameron’s efforts that even senior Conservative Party leaders attacked him and his allies for promoting a “Project Fear” campaign to frighten and intimidate citizens into voting “Remain.”