Some EU enthusiasts claim that our decision in 2016 was an aberration. In fact, whenever we have been given the chance to vote against EU policies, we have rejected those policies.
Referendums across Europe showed that the EU was increasingly unpopular. In 2005 French voters rejected the European Constitution by 55 per cent to 45. Enthusiasm for the EU was confined to the wealthiest suburbs and quarters of Paris, and the only groups that voted Yes were big business, the liberal professions and academics. Dutch voters rejected the Constitution by 61.6 per cent to 38.4. Yet President Juncker told MEPs, "the French and Dutch did not really vote 'No' to the European Constitution."
In the 2004 referendum on the Labour Party's EU-style regional scheme to break up Britain, the people of the North-East rejected it massively, voting 77.9% No to 22.1% Yes, on a turnout of 47.1%. In the 2011 referendum on the EU-style Alternative Vote scheme, 67.9% rejected it and 32.1% voted Yes, on a turnout of 41%.
And in 2014 the people of Scotland voted against breaking up the United Kingdom. 2,001,926 Scots, 55.3%, voted to stay in. 1,617,989 people, 44.7%, voted to leave. Turnout was 84.59 per cent, the highest ever recorded in a UK election or referendum. Only 13 of Scotland's 59 Westminster seats backed the SNP call for secession.
So, majorities voted against the EU's preferred course in all three referendums. All these decisions paved the way to our vote in 2016.
In November 2012 David Cameron told Chancellor Merkel that "The British people never got a choice to vote on Lisbon. It spread much unhappiness towards the political establishment. … if I don't listen to British public opinion, then Britain will depart from Europe. … I have a problem with my party, even though elements in the Conservative Party are more pro-Europe than the country, which is even more sceptical."
In the EU Parliament elections of 2014 only 34% of people in the UK voted. That is, huge numbers of those who voted to remain in 2016 could not even be bothered to vote for an MEP in 2014.