Not being either British or European (nor having any ties beyond ancestral heritage), I really can’t make too many statements except in a generalized, macrocosm perspective.
On one hand, the European Union has done little to really justify its existence beyond helping the wealthy of the continent get wealthier. Much like in the United States as our free trade agreements kicked in, there was little to no support for the middle class jobs that got shifted, leaving millions of people in the lurch with few prospects or alternatives. That’s a problem. It’s a big problem, and just like the elite in the U.S., the elites in the EU responded to that problem with a shrug and indifference as the armored trucks full of money backed into their bank accounts.
The deplorable “solution” to the Syrian refugee problem was also nothing that can possibly be defended, and their handling of the Grecian collapse was equally despicable. It’s a bit disingenuous to wag your finger at England for succumbing to fears of the “brown people” while you’re doing everything you can to shuffle those same people off to a questionable regime in Turkey with no small amount of troubling human rights attitudes in exchange for more money and trade.
So no, the vote to leave the European Union isn’t inherently an anti-intellectual, selfish, uninformed one.
That said, if your alternative was to support a blatantly xenophobic, ultra-nationalist party, then your protest vote was put in precisely the wrong hands. I would have thought Europe and Great Britain would know better than anyone what happens when you give that sort of sentiment validation.
And I’m not even talking about Nazi Germany (although they are a prime example). The ethnic cleansing of Slobodan Milosevic and then Yugoslavia should still be well within the collective consciousness of the older Britons that voted in supposedly large numbers to support the UKIP’s nigh racist platform.
Not to mention how badly this decision will almost assuredly shoot yourselves in the foot. At this point, it is almost assured that Scotland will push for another referendum on independence, and that this time in light of “Brexit” it will pass quite easily. Northern Ireland could quite possibly follow.
Take it from American history; isolationism rarely ends well, and that’s the cold blanket that you’re wrapping around yourselves.