No. People wanted to have their say and they did. Up and down the country they defied the experts and went with their conscience. Labour voters most of all: the northeast rebelled against a century of Labour leadership. I am astonished. Staggered. Humbled. I should never have lost faith in my countrymen. Those bold, brave, beautiful British voters.
Why did they do it? That, we’ll pick apart in the next few weeks. I think that Leave genuinely ran the better campaign, more hopeful and upbeat. Immigration mattered a great deal – although one YouGov poll ranked it third behind democracy and the economy. It’s possible that voters grasped the essential point about this referendum better than we the commentators did. It was a vote of confidence in Britain. Should we run our affairs or should we delegate it to foreign bureaucrats? When I was leaving my polling station, I said to a chap: “I found voting quite emotional.” He replied that this was the day we got our freedom back. That’s how it feels for millions of Britons.
Not how it feels, perhaps, for Londoners or Scots. We’ve seen a new division emerge within our country. Scotland increasingly defines its politics as Left-wing and Europhile. London is simply a different country: the metropolis triumphant. The young may have overwhelmingly voted Remain, too – but, hey, they will grow older someday. The young who voted Remain in 1975 overwhelmingly voted Leave in 2016. In part, perhaps, because they didn’t like being characterised as ancient bigots by the Remain side. Top tip for winning future elections: don’t call the electorate “thick” or “losers”. It, er, turns them off.