While some called it an expression of popular will against a remote political elite, others claimed it was a reassertion of national identity from a people tired of multiculturalism and mass European migration.
But three slogans that rang out during the referendum campaign reveal a much deeper reason, which has its roots in Britain's past. They are "Take Back Control", "Putting the Great Back into Britain", and "Global Britain".
According to several leading commentators including the Guardian's Gary Younge and Oxford University's Danny Dorling, these slogans come from a mentality that yearns for the days when Britain controlled a third of the globe, with an empire that Winston Churchill thought might last for a thousand years. That empire is long gone, but the mentality it fostered is still with us. It's an attitude that tells British people they alone won two world wars, that they were better off before they joined the EU, and they gave the world civilisation