It’s unexpected. Until recently, even pro-EU British people seldom expressed enthusiasm for the shambling multinational agglomeration. Somebody had to set Europe-wide standards for natural-gas pipeline pressure, but it was not the kind of function that inspired idealism. While many might appreciate hassle-free travel to sunny Spain and scenic Italy, they would hardly get weepy about the legal regime that speeded their way. The EU was at best a convenience. Above all, it unites the young against the old. About 800,000 young British people qualify as voters every year. Britain’s under-25 population favored Remain over Leave, 71 to 29 percent. Among the over-65s who voted 64 to 36 percent Leave over Remain, 600,000 depart this world every year.
Even now, I doubt there is much authentic pro-EU feeling among EU Remainers. But there does seem to be a lot of anger against those pushing Britain out of the EU. This is not primarily an anger about economics, although the economics of quitting the European Single Market will be painful in the short term and probably not a lot more pleasant even in the longer term. It’s an anger against exactly the nostalgia politics that Galloway and Farage in their different ways express. Antipathy to nostalgia binds people who did not have much in common before: the banker with customers in Germany, the farmer who sells her lamb to restaurants in France, the college lecturer hired to teach students from Italy and Spain.