If only David Cameron hadn’t promised a referendum (he might well have won the last General Election without it)
If only Jeremy Corbyn had campaigned for Remain more passionately (how different the outcome might have been if Gordon Brown had been in charge)
If only it hadn’t rained in London yesterday (turnout for Remain might have been higher)
If only Scotland’s political leaders had campaigned more passionately (turnout in Scotland might have been higher)
If only the referendum had been only about Brexit (it was inevitably an opportunity for the expression of other frustrations – a protest against austerity, authority, inequality, poverty and alienation)
If only Vote Remain had campaigned more positively (‘project fear’ was the wrong approach)
If only Boris Johnson was less ambitious.
If only MPs hadn’t lost the trust of the people during the expenses scandal (expert opinion is now routinely despised and all MPs’ sincerity doubted)
If only Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande had offered Britain more
If only the EU had been better at promoting its virtues and demonstrating its democratic credentials
If only the media had been more honest about the EU’s virtues and less intent on misrepresentation and the promotion of lies
Democracy is the least bad way of arranging human affairs on a large scale, and there is no purer form of democracy than asking the opinion of the people in a referendum, even if the question that is asked is more complex when taken in its full historical and political context than its simple form might suggest. But however we might analyse the reasons why Britain voted for Leave, the will of the people was finally expressed through a simple binary choice and it must be respected.
All the same, I think less of my countrymen for the decision they have made. It was a naïve, foolish, and selfish decision and I wish the question had never been asked, that the referendum had never been called. I hope that despite Brexit the EU will remain intact, but I fear that British parochialism may be contagious.