In a complex and chaotic environment, harnessing the “wisdom of crowds” is often the best way of smoothing a path to a successful outcome – in the long run. Individuals recognise, even if they can’t articulate, problems that wise men and autocrats, with their eyes on the horizon and their own interests, may not see; collectively the people can oblige rulers to find solutions, when the alternative is de-selection. This is what has long been impossible for the EU with its high-flown ideals and determination to achieve them whatever the cost. For many the costs seemed too great and the ideals doubtful.
We hope the EU will change radically (i.e. at root) and that we can engage with it harmoniously and productively; Brexit may be the trigger that starts the process. Just as David Cameron recognises that a new direction for Britain needs a new leader we hope the Commission will change to make itself accountable to the people for its successes and failures. Then the people can decide the direction and let their chosen “experts” find the way towards a union that works, at least for most.
We have spent decades negotiating naively within the EU, not helped by europhiles like Heath, Major and Blair giving away all the firm ground. We have had little diplomatic brainpower left for dealing with the rest of the world when our parochial concerns in a single region have consumed it all in an unequal struggle. We’re intrinsically stronger than that and we can recover, which is not to say we will.