But it's certainly the end of something - perhaps the end of globalisation as a political and not just economic force in human affairs for a generation or two. Certainly the forward march of the European Union has been halted. But again, it's too early to tell, as it is with most things Brexit-related right now.
One thing I expect future historians will wonder is why so many people were surprised by the outcome of yesterday's UK referendum? The Pew Research Center recently published a poll showing attitudes towards the European Union from within and without the EU. I've extracted the data and summarised the trend (where data is available) between 2007 and 2016. Only one country has become more favourably disposed towards the EU in recent years: the United States of America. As for European countries? Not so much. I've ranked the results by 'net favourability' (% favourable minus % unfavourable), showing the country that is least favourably disposed first:
|Attitudes towards the European Union|
|% Favourable||% Unfavourable||Net Favourable|
|Q. Please tell me if you have a very favorable, somwhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of the European Union?|
|Source: Pew Research Center|
Not surprisingly, Greece is least favourably disposed towards the EU right now. But the big surprise is France - they are even less favourably disposed than the British (as I noted before). Nevertheless, the trend is quite stark: in every single EU country for which there is trend data the % unfavourably disposed towards the European Union has risen sharply in the past ten years.
There's no need to panic just yet, but there's no excuse for complacency either.