In fact, both sides can be accused of appealing to base emotions leading up to the vote on June 23. But both sides also offered perfectly rational, balanced arguments. Specifically, it was perfectly possible for voters in the U.K. to vote to leave the E.U. not because they wanted to slam the door on the world, but because they wanted to engage with it while managing their own affairs, without being pushed around by unelected, meddlesome bureaucrats who actually put hurdles in the way of international commerce.
Just weeks before the Brexit vote, the European Union stirred a hornet’s nest with a proposal to require restaurants to serve olive oil only in commercially purchased bottles, not in refillable cruets or bowls. The ban, almost certainly intended to benefit large producers at the expense of local producers unable to package oil in single-use containers, was promptly pulled amidst a righteous outcry.
“What I find really interesting about this story is not the general derision with which the first proposal was greeted: rather, the nakedness of the ambition behind it,” wrote Tim Worstall, a fellow at London’s Adam Smith Institute. “Big business using ‘consumer protection’ legislation to kill off the small producer. Sadly, that’s an all too common part of the way that the E.U. is governed. Regulation which privileges large companies over the small ones that cannot afford to obey the legislation.”