WHEN a revolution happens, the consequences are not obvious straight away. The British referendum on EU membership in June 2016 was seen as a revolt of ordinary people against a globalised elite. The politicians who led the Leave campaign did not seem to expect to win; as wags remarked, they were like "the dog that caught the car".
This helps to explain the general chaos that has enveloped British policy since the result. The Leave campaign had contained two contradictions. The first was that Britain could have all the advantages of EU membership without the bother of actually belonging; the country could "have its cake and eat it" as Boris Johnson, Leave campaigner and now foreign secretary put it. The second was the split between the free market, Liberal brexiters, who envisaged Britain as open to the world, and the nativist camp led by Nigel Farage.