I am not a Brexit supporter but I spoke with a few of them (all living and working in London, most of them working in law firms and investment banks: the situation elsewhere may well be completely different).
They gave me this explanation:
- Services: “UK does services best”. Because of protectionism (and bureaucracy), Brexiters claim Continental EU countries prevented UK to properly compete on services. UK tried again and again to enter those markets in the past few decades, but stubborn protectionism mostly in France, Spain, Italy and Germany prevented this. Their point is the following: UK service companies have the downsides of the EU regulation, without the upside of at least being able to enter the continental EU markets. If I live in Italy, I cannot open a bank account with Natwest via the internet. If I live in France, I cannot hire a lawyer from Birmingham. If I have a company incorporated in Germany, I cannot have my accounting books certified by a London company. Conversely, if I have a taxi company in London, I cannot go and provide my services in Berlin. If I am a guy from Edinburgh and I want to buy a house in Florence, why am I legally forced to hire a Notary Public from Florence to draft and register the deed? These, they claim, are all extremely lucrative market niches in the service sectors where the UK excels and the continental countries, by design, protectionistly prevent competition from other member states. “Let’s refocus and compete on a global scale” given that the EU does not allow the UK to.
- Exceptionalism: “UK never really wholeheartedly embraced the whole EU concept”. Because of strenuous political feuds at home, UK politicians had to continuously negotiate to be inside the EU with a myriad of tailor made, hardly negotiated, opt-outs (one foot in, one foot out, all the time). What Brexit wants to achieve is for the UK to be outside the EU with a few limited opt-ins where the UK public has very limited emotional involvement (and politicians need to pay an innocuous political price: medicinals, satellites, nuclear fuel, etc.). Brexiters claim that the UK has always been allowed to cherry-pick the best aspects of the EU (concession of the budgetary rebate, exclusion from monetary union, exclusion from judicial unification, and so on…): what they want to achieve now is cherry-picking on steroids. Regardless of the fact that this will inevitably create stronger trade barriers, more difficult market access, and ultimately less economic velocity (ie. people will be poorer), Brexiters believe that this will make at least politics easier at home, without the continuous struggle with the EU, first, and then back at home to render the EU regulations palatable to the UK public (especially against the strong lobbying and protectionist efforts by the British agriculture and fisheries sectors).
- Immigration: “UK never wanted (this level of) freedom of movement of people”. Brexiters believe that it is easy for EU countries to (politically) accept the freedom of movement idea because they send their people to the UK (London, they claim, is the third French city after Paris and Lyon; hundreds of thousands of Italian and Polish people live in London without needing a Visa: for many British people, especially older ones, this is crazy). Like it or not, at both the right and left of the UK political spectrum, a substantial part of the UK public (and especially those — very influential — that stand up and go to the poll at elections and referenda) does not really see a particular contribution by EU immigrants to the UK economic and social fabric, but only the downsides of more competition for jobs at home and a sometimes annoying need for cultural integration. If Brexit is the way to stop the EU people inflow to the UK, so be it.
- World Trade: “UK already imports goods from all over the world”. Oranges from Florida, avocados from Mexico, broccoli from Chile, etc. Going out of the EU is not really a big deal. If German or Italian cars will end up being too expensive, UK people will finally buy more Teslas. This is how Brexiters liquidate the whole “largest trading-bloc in the world”, “just in time” manufacturing pipelines, plutonium supply issues, etc. Most of them never had to deal with “just in time” manufacturing, or do not have a clue of what adding friction back to a friction-less custom union entails: they think more in “services” terms, so the idea of adding renewed trade barriers and red tape for goods does not really touch a nerve.
- Northern Ireland border: “Nobody wants a border”. For Brexit supporters, this is a non-issue. “They just need to agree on the technicalities”. Pressed on the technicalities, and unable to address them, they ultimately explained that if there needs to be a different custom regime between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, the sky will not fall (these people would not even dream to go, visit or live in Northern Ireland, to be honest).
- Disruption: Brexit, even in its softest form, will disrupt the UK economy for at least the next 5–10 years (regardless their rosy estimates circulated before the referendum, this is basically undisputed even by Brexiters now: it is such a long shot bet that some Brexiters even admitted on cameras that it may take 50 years for the U.K. to reengineer itself and (maybe) reap the potential benefits deriving from Brexit). There is a small but influential fringe of the UK public which is shielded by this incoming disruption and is aware that from this disruption there will be chances to make a lot of money and they are actively investing on this. The harder the Brexit, the more money they think they can make. If you happen to be in the right spot, this is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity to make money and settle for good even your children and grandchildren.