The first results, from Newcastle and Sunderland, helped set the mood, with Leave doing better than anticipated. About eight hours later when I went to bed, it was all over and British democracy had spoken — the forty-plus year experiment of Britain in Europe was coming to an end.
The bankers hit the panic button, the pound tanked (taking the Canadian dollar with it), and — part two of my hopes and wishes — David Cameron resigned. It was a grand night.
I am willing to accept that the superficial logic behind the voters’ decision is deeply flawed. Most of Britain’s street-level economic woes are not caused by Europe; they are, rather, a function of the anti-person pro-austerity Tory policies of Cameron and Osborne following on from decades of Thatcherite and Blairite disasters. The vote will do nothing to stop the 150,000 non-EU and mostly non-white migrants that arrive in Britain every year. The vote will do nothing at all to protect the NHS from the ravages of Tory privatization and under-funding.
I am also willing to accept that many of the leaders of the Leave campaign are intellectual lightweights, Trump-like in their extravagant audacity, and some could even be described as evil (though Cameron and Osborne for Remain are equally bad).
But, I would argue, the deeper and most important reason for 17 million Brits to vote the way they did was to reassert local control regardless of the specific issues themselves. And for a radical decentralizer like me, this is an important movement in the right direction, and what makes last night such a glorious business.
So what next?
Cameron has already announced his resignation, which means the Conservatives will conduct another civil war within the party between the supporters of Boris Johnson and everyone else. If they mess that up as badly as they might, the Tories could quickly take themselves out of office.
The Labour Party still has to sort out its position on Jeremy Corbyn, especially as he too lost the referendum.
UKIP will no doubt hang around to be annoying during the exit negotiations. However, having achieved their only raison d’etre and without the intellectual heft to successfully pivot to another issue, I see them fading away, slowly folding themselves back into the Tory Party.
Scotland (and, I hope, Wales and Northern Ireland) will demand another independence referendum in an attempt to regain their position within Europe. My decentralising dream of there being four independent countries — England, Wales, Scotland, and a re-united Ireland — in place of Great Britain may actually come to fruition.
The Brits who this morning are bemoaning their fate will learn soon enough that Britain (or England) can stand on its own two feet and prosper. I suspect that we will see a renewal of Commonwealth-based trade ties, while the bankers will ensure that London retains its place as a major financial centre.
It is a new and exciting beginning.