How Britons feel about Brexit

A demonstrator draped in an EU flag sits on floor during a protest against the outcome of the UK's June 23 referendum on the European Union in central London on June 25, 2016.

Story highlights

  • Britain voted to leave the European Union in a referendum on Thursday

(CNN)Britain voted to leave the European Union in a referendum on Thursday. The decision prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his intention to resign and sent share prices tumbling. The decision is historic, but how do people in the UK feel? CNN asked a group of commentators, politicians and historians in the UK for their personal take on what it all means. The views expressed are their own.

Stanley: I'm deliriously happy

Timothy Stanley
I am deliriously happy about Britain voting to Leave. It's being pitched as many things: a vote against immigration, elitism or globalization. But at its heart it was about democracy. The EU had undermined our sovereignty and threatened to drag us into a federal superstate. Britain wanted no more of it.
    Given that we were threatened with economic Armageddon if we voted to Leave -- by the President of the USA no less -- it's particularly thrilling that so many people chose risk and freedom over the promise of stability. In New Hampshire they say: "live free or die." Perhaps we've brought the American revolution home.
    Timothy Stanley is a historian and columnist for Britain's Daily Telegraph.

    Woolf: Our sense of self is depleted

    Sheila Woolf
    My parents went through World War II and felt positive about the postwar moves toward European unity: they hoped their children would not have to face what they had faced. On Thursday, I voted Remain -- for the sake of our young people, who need unity now more than at any time since the 1930s, as nationalist tendencies arise throughout Europe.
    Brexit makes me despair: lies and scaremongering combined with economic and political half-truths have led to this. Our economy and our position on the world stage are both now in tatters. But more fundamentally, our sense of self is depleted, and the opportunities available to the younger generation are fractured. Young and old, we are in shock.
    Sheila Woolf is a Warwickshire-based historian and author and former school teacher.

    Singh: A political earthquake

    Gurharpal Singh
    Two days after the Brexit vote and it is still difficult to come to terms with the magnitude of the political earthquake that has hit Britain. In retrospect, it will rank in the same league as 1066, the English civil war, American independence, and India's decolonization.
    Britain has turned against history and into itself, which might presage the breakup of the country. As Enoch Powell, the veteran anti-EU campaigner, said almost 43 years ago: "Independence, the freedom of a self-governing nation, is in my estimation the highest political good, for which any disadvantage, if need be, and any sacrifice are a cheap price." The real question is whether the politicians and the voters who have sleepwalked into a Brexit are willing to pay this price.
    Prof. Gurharpal Singh is Dean of Arts and Humanities at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

    Smith: Demagoguery triumphs over reason

    Chris Smith
    The result of the EU referendum is a disaster for the UK in so many ways -- economically, socially, culturally, and in terms of what it signifies for Britain's relationship with the world. We've turne