The USA has some (unpleasant) experience in cutting ties with an overarching power. Twice.
Once, we cut the cord with King George in the late 1700s. It worked but was costly in lives. Once the united states (lower case intentionally) became separated in the 1860s. Again, it was costly in lives and this time the separation attempt didn't work.
As long as you can keep it from becoming a bloodbath, you are ahead of the game. But I think this separation event is a natural feature of attempting to unify governments with wildly disparate cultures and traditions. There is a "federalism vs stateism" conflict because people see local autonomy as a good thing, but they ALSO see federal military protection as a good thing. Striking that balance between local and national power is tricky at best. It always comes down to whether folks think they are in better conditions with or without that centralizing force.
I think the only valid critic in this case will be that acid test of hindsight. We will have to wait until Brexit is a fait accompli and can be judged by the scrutinizing lens of history.
I tend to agree with your perspective that hindsight is the acid test. So many people pretend they know what the outcome will be, but the world is complex and unpredictable. There were dire predictions of recession, but they never came to pass. Instead, it looks like the EU is having recession problems, not the UK. Yet, many will say, "I told you so!", whatever comes to pass. They had a 50:50 chance of getting the right outcome. When you try to tightly tie the outcome to your prediction, you are suffering from hindsight bias. You could have predicted something using a faulty decision process, or with poor data, or something that is unpredictable. Yet if you were lucky and guessed correctly, your self-serving bias attributes it to your skill and not to your luck.
I voted remain. I am an ardent remainer. But I also understand there is every chance that we will leave the EU and while I don't like it, I'm not going to sulk about it. I'm trying to be pragmatic.
And, like Jen, I also have an Irish passport - or backstop as I like to call it.
While I think there were many things wrong with the EU beaurocratic machine, I also think that the best way to influence and effect change is to be part of the conversation, not to stick 2 fingers up and repeat our negotiating stance louder and slower each time, like a British tourist on one of the Costas.
I don't see how there can be a deal. Not without breaking the Good Friday Agreement. Still, Ireland is closer now to being unified than it has ever been since partition, so maybe not all bad.
And if I was Scottish I'd be declaring war on England. Cameron and Osborne told the Scots during their Independence Referendum that Scotland would not be eligible to remain in the EU if it voted to leave the UK. And just 2 years later...boom!
Have to laugh about "the Irish thing" of deciding who you know in common. We have the "degrees of separation" game here in the USA as well. I drive folks nuts with my "degrees of separation" stories.
1. When I got married, my wife and I discovered that the daughter of a woman with whom I used to car pool was the same woman who broke up my wife's marriage and who became her ex's 2nd wife. And the OTHER member of the car pool was the ex's neighbor at his new house where he moved after the divorce. And my wife's eldest daughter knew both of the car-pool members because ex's #2 was employed with said ex and all of wife's kids knew her anyway.
2. Later on, we heard that wife's ex got divorced again and married his #3 - who turned out to have taken beginner organ lessons from my mother when she was teaching kids how to play keyboards with a now-defunct music store here in New Orleans.
3. At work as a Navy contractor, I finally got a new guy Anthony to train as my assistant (in theory) and to take 2nd shift admin duties. His last name was just odd enough that I asked him if he knew a "Carlo" with the same last name. It was his brother, and Carlo and I used to car-pool together at my first real job..
4. Talking with Anthony, I learned he was married so we talked about our spouses. He said her name and of course I thought nothing of it until he happened to mention her parents' names - and the father's first name was rare enough that I asked for her maiden name. Sure enough, I knew the parents very well - because in college, I was the "matchmaker" who introduced them to each other. I taught the father in first-semester chemistry lab when I was in grad school and used to car-pool with the mother when we shared a late-afternoon World History class. Gretchen would not have existed if I had not been there for the parents. Anthony said he would have to think about whether he would forgive me for that transgression.
5. When I started working for the Navy as a contractor, I was introduced to the operations staff. Turned out I had trained two of the operations folks on VAX/VMS operating system usage and management when we worked at my first real employer ten years earlier.
6. When Anthony left the Navy because of a better job offer and a shorter commute time, his replacement was Adam - whose mother had been a "Girl Scout Cookie Mom" with my wife when HER two daughters were in the Girl Scouts. Linda had met Adam when he was still a kid in elementary school. In fact, Adam got his job because I offered the recommendation based on knowing the character of his family.
As bad as I am about knowing people, the guy who was the Best Man at my wedding is reputed to have gone to Switzerland for the first time in his life (for a skiing jaunt) and meeting people at the Zurich airport whom he knew. (As attested to by the other groomsman at my wedding.)
And don't bother to play the association game with Cajuns - because they know EVERYBODY.