Why Brexit Is More Entrance Than Exit

Pop psychologists tell us that grief proceeds through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Have been blindsided by the stunning victory of Brexit on Thursday,  members of the camp of  the Remainders are now vibrating somewhere between anger and bargaining. This followed hard on a brief period of stunned denial that often expressed itself as gulping incredulity. As the psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple observed in City Journal,

For a long time, Britons who wanted their country to leave the European Union were regarded almost as mentally ill by those who wanted it to stay. The leavers didn’t have an opinion; they had a pathology. Since one doesn’t argue with pathology, it wasn’t necessary for the remainers to answer the leavers with more than sneers and derision.

Even after the vote, the attitude persists. Those who voted to leave are described as, ipso facto, small-minded, xenophobic, and fearful of the future. Those who voted to stay are described as, ipso facto, open-minded, cosmopolitan, and forward-looking.

At this point it is not clear exactly when the Brits will formally invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union and officially begin the withdrawal negotiations. But Thursday's vote made Britain's congé in the most stinging and public manner.

As of this writing, early Sunday morning, the Remainders have yet to take that rebuke on board. They have, however, moved firmly from denial to white hot anger, as the movement to invalidate the referendum by holding a second referendum attests. As of last night, a petition demanding that Parliament force a new referendum had attracted some 2 million signatures.

The fatuousness of that effort is as patent as it is contemptible. Back in 2009, Barack Obama smugly observed that "elections have consequences." Thursday's vote was a non-binding referendum, not an election, but it most assuredly has consequences, as (for example) the immediate announcement by David Cameron, the prime minister, that he would soon be resigning demonstrates.

I expect that the Remainders will soon abandon the petition and move on to more circuitous, backroom maneuvers to subvert or nullify the will of the people. It is at that point, when the delayers and dispensers of red tape arrive with their megaphones, that we'll know that the bargaining stage has been definitively reached. (I am no psychologist, but my observation is that most people, even if they  do progress through the five stages described, do not entirely leave behind the earlier stages. There generally persists, I believe,  a bit of denial and more than a bit of anger.)