The Brexit vote was a momentous political earthquake and the seismic shifts that caused it have been long in the making. It has ruptured so many political structures — decades and even centuries old, national and international — so deeply it could be decades before its damage can be fully reckoned. The damage reveals the fragility of Britain’s, and the West’s, political and economic structures caused by three-and-a-half decades of neoliberalism and austerity.
The Bremainers’ entirely laudable cosmopolitanism and anti-racism were tragically mixed up with a blindness to how fast and how far formerly social-democratic Europe had become neoliberal. The Brexiteers staged the latest popular revolt against neoliberalism and austerity, as the Greeks and the inhabitants of Donbass did in 2014 and the supporters in the United States of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are doing today. Despite the entire political establishment and all its financial and media resources backing remain — with even Labour’s Euro-sceptic leader Jeremy Corbyn urging “remain and reform” — the English and Welsh electorates voted decisively for Brexit.