When Prime Minister David Cameron gave in to the Conservative Brexit fanatics and promised to hold a referendum on EU membership if he won the General Election of 2015, he also let them do a lot of other things - e.g. gerrymander the electorate by systematically excluding millions of people who could have been expected to vote Remain.
He never bothered to think about crucial questions - such as what would happen if there was a very small majority, and/or a small turn out? What if some countries in the UK voted for Remain and others for Leave? Should the Leave campaign have to come up with a credible programme for quitting the EU or should they be allowed to be all things to all Brexiters and promise a whole pile of often contradictory things that could never be delivered?
You see none of this mattered, because Cameron knew the Tories were not going to win the election. At best, they'd be back in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, and the Libdems would save him from holding the referendum.
Unfortunately, Cameron misjudged the ferocity with which his party would stab their former coalition partners in the back, and so, curses!, he won a majority. That wasn't meant to happen.
So now he was stuck with the referendum, but still he didn't need to worry about the crazy, negligent basis on which it was being set up, because Remain was going to win. Leave was going to lose, and all but the most fanatical of the Brexiters could be put back in their box for a few more years.
To be continued