It was a beautiful, clear morning in Westminster, with the sun shining from an almost cloudless sky: champagne weather.

But the mood was not celebratory. Even the victors felt stunned by the magnitude and unexpectedness of their success.

Sleep deprivation played a large part in this. Many people had not been to bed at all.

On College Green, a strange kind of garden party was in progress, with several hundred politicians and media people milling about in front of the tents.

There was Iain Duncan Smith, goggle-eyed with tiredness. Lord Mandelson, the eurocrats’ eurocrat, wore a stricken air, as if attending the funeral of an old and much-loved friend over whose grave he has the sad duty of delivering the eulogy, or EUlogy.

Chris Grayling , who appeared somewhat fresher than most of the MPs, said he had managed to go to bed for a bit. Denis MacShane was fielding inquiries from the Turks and the French.

Stanley Johnson, still wearing his “Remain in the EU for nature” tee-shirt, was asked by a young woman what the future would hold if his son, Boris, were to become Prime Minister.

“Sunlit uplands,” Stanley declared. She invited him to expand on this. “Sunlit uplands,” Stanley repeated.

Such an optimistic, non-ideological programme might well appeal to Johnson the Younger.

Outside the Downing Street gates, a crowd had assembled, consisting of a great diversity of people who knew something important had happened.

In the words of Lukas Brendel, 25, who is from Munich but is doing a medical internship in London, “This is a monumental day.”

Brendel expressed his “sadness, because Great Britain is leaving the EU”, which he saw as “a family, with everyone working in a common cause, which is now split apart, and it might cause other countries to consider leaving as well”.

Robert Tasker, vice-chairman of the Vote Leave campaign in Dubai, had enjoyed watching the results all night in his hotel, but displayed a complete absence of triumphalism: “I just didn’t expect it.”

Mary Egunyu, a Labour-supporting student, was completely dismayed that David Cameron had stepped down, and said Labour voters had not intended to achieve this: “They expected to give him a slap.”

Someone else asked me what exactly David Cameron had said, a few minutes before.

“He says the ship needs a new captain, to steer it in a new direction,” I began, but the man did not understand English, and before I could establish whether he spoke one of my limited range of foreign languages, my telephone rang with a demand for the latest about Boris.

Everyone wants the latest about Boris – a subject on which he himself is about to speak.




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