The Brexit referendum bisected Britain. The vote was designed to demonstrate that Britain did not want to leave the European Union. In fact, had Britain’s political and business elite doubted that the referendum would result in a “remain” verdict, it’s unlikely the vote would ever have been called. But 52 percent of voters wanted to leave the EU; 48 percent wanted to stay. If 2 percent of voters had switched positions, the referendum could just as easily have gone the other way.
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Britain was deeply divided, and the elites were oblivious to that division. The critical question was: Did they have any interest in the reality facing most Britons?
Well-credentialed, well-spoken opponents of Brexit were certain that those who voted to leave the EU were uneducated and incapable of understanding the consequences of their vote. Brexit opponents attempted to delegitimize the referendum’s outcome by effectively delegitimizing the democratic process: They argue