The vote to leave the EU was not a reflection of the British not feeling European. They rarely even feel British!
A considerable component of Britishness is founded in insularity, parochialism and tribalism.
The British retain a strong sense of identity by defining themselves not by who they ‘are’, but by who they are ‘not’.
e.g “I am Lancashire because I am NOT Yorkshire. I am Scottish because I am NOT English. I am Northern, because I am NOT Southern.’
This is fertile ground for propaganda – whether it’s humour, sport or politically motivated.
These themes carry over into class distinctions – ‘I am working class because I am NOT a toff’.
As part of that a culture of anti-intellectualism was created, where school was a waste of time, intelligence was seen as effete, and gut instinct was seen as honest.
So you end up with a disturbing cocktail of identity, regional pride, bigotry and prejudice untempered by a good education or facts on the ground (one where apparently we had “had enough of experts”), that was exploited by political extremists and commercial interests to their own advantage.
The electorate was fed a diet of nonsense supported by just enough plausible ‘evidence’ to exploit ‘confirmation bias’ to persuade 26% of the population (37% of the electorate) to vote for Brexit.
Undoubtedly some were anti-European, some were bigots or racists, some may genuinely have leveraged half-baked ‘insights’ to convince themselves that exiting the biggest trading block on the planet was a good idea.
But most, I’m afraid, were just suckers.
And like any bad gambler, many of them are still doubling down on their bad bets despite the overwhelming evidence of an impending disaster.