A friend in Oxford was puzzled to receive a last-minute leaflet which said: “Don’t let someone else decide your future: Vote Remain.” He obeyed the first demand, and not the second, since it flatly contradicted the first. He voted Leave.
If, like me, you feel a bit numb this morning, it is because we British actually have decided our own future. We have not been allowed to do this since 1975. It is a slightly frightening, wonderful feeling – that the people can, through the ballot box, set their country free.
More people – 17,410,742 – voted Leave on Thursday than have ever voted for anything in British history. As David Cameron wisely and firmly acknowledged in his resignation speech yesterday, the result, with its very high turnout, is decisive: our decision must be enacted.
The Leave campaign was assailed for scorning the advice of experts. Experts should, of course, be respected for their expertise. But no one is an expert where democracy is concerned. Each of us is worth only one vote. It took enormous courage for the majority to refuse to be cowed by bankers and archbishops, prime ministers and presidents, scientists and economists, the BBC and the CBI, Richard Branson, Peter Mandelson and David Beckham, but it was not rash to do so. It was the mass assertion of a right which, over the years, we had been losing.