A sizeable proportion of the 17 million who voted Leave did so because they wanted to get back to what they thought we had joined in the first place, a Common Market of free, independent nations, not a fledgling superstate able to interfere in our laws and politics. They want the UK to disengage from the political structures but not the free trade area.
But the victory for Brexit was actually delivered with the votes of those who don’t like immigration. These were Farage’s people. They took Leave over the line. And they did so with the connivance of the official Vote Leave campaign that held its nose and cannot now disavow this truth.
The Brexit referendum is not legally binding and the MPs could ignore it.
But what is constitutionally possible is politically improbable. More likely, because this could secure a majority in Parliament and stop the UK cracking up, is that we leave the political bits of Europe and stay in the single market, perhaps by joining the EEA.
This might entail a deal on immigration, possibly a return to the original Common Market idea of free movement of labour, not of people. But our erstwhile EU partners would need to agree to change the rules; and it will mean seriously disappointing those who voted Leave thinking they would stop immigration outright. They will be angry. And where will they turn? We haven’t heard the last of Nigel Farage.
He’s quite correct that while the issue of independence and democracy was probably decided by the Brexit vote, what to do on immigration has barely begun to be decided.