Brexit will be Britain’s Fourth of July

The campaign to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, widely known as “Brexit,” is potentially on the verge of a huge victory Thursday despite overwhelming opposition in the media and among the corporate and political establishment. The outcome matters not just as an expression of arcane British insularity, but as evidence of a growing rebellion against the ever greater consolidation and concentration of power now occurring across all of Europe, as well as here in the United States.

In many ways, this rebellion’s antecedents include our own revolution, which sought to overturn a distant, and largely unaccountable, bureaucracy. Like Lord North, George III’s prime minister, today’s Eurocratic elites spoke of obligations and fealty to the wisdom of the central imperium. What shocked the centralizers then, and once again today, was the temerity of the governed to challenge the precepts of their betters.

None of this suggests that Brexit will win this time around, given the massive odds of overcoming so much concentrated establishment power, and the reaction to the brutal slaying of a prominent, pro-EU Labor MP by a deranged neo-Nazi (is there any other kind?). But the fact that the anti-EU rebels have gotten this far (after the Brexiters had surged ahead, polls now show the country evenly split) suggests a growing desire to overturn hyper-centralization with a return to self-government and local control.