The British, or rather the English, voted for Brexit not because of over-regulation or dissatisfaction with the economy or because European bankers screwed Greece and Ireland and would do the same to the Brits, but because they hate foreigners and believe they are superior to continental Europeans.
Not all of them mind you but an awful lot, some 17 million of them who plumped for the Leave campaign in the referendum. (It would be interesting to see just how the English vote went but I’d bet the Brexit margin was a good deal larger than the overall result)
That they loathe the French, Germans and Italians and look down on the minor European countries, when they bother even to notice them, has been a feature of English culture – frequently expressed in TV comedies, invariably set during World War II and full of excruciating racial sterotypes – all my life.
That racism is, of course, not confined to the European continent. Ask the Irish, Scots and even the Welsh about that. But at least they are white and, more or less, speak the same language.
But what sharpened all those horrible emotions was the influx of stranger Europeans, like Poles and Romanians whose language, food and culture was, to the English, utterly alien.
And I suspect the promised/threatened influx of Turks tipped the balance in Thursday’s vote.
The idea that much of English economic life would be decided in part by Germans and French was bad enough but having to share their cities and towns with Turks, Poles and Romanians was too much for the English to bear.
When the Leave campaign complained about immigration it was to this base and reactionary emotion they were appealing to. The execrable Nigel Farage – surely Denis Thatcher reborn – is their leader. Meanwhile in France, English soccer fans gave all this an uglier but in its way more honest shape.
None, or very little of this, will feature in the Brexit post-mortems. That’s a pity, not least for those remaining in the EU. They might conclude that Europe is better off without such people in their midst.