The leave argument rested heavily on the notion that, once freed from an oppressive thicket of EU regulations spewed by Brussels bureaucrats, Britain's feeble economy would once again regain its glory as a fully independent world power.
But the vote has badly undermined confidence in the British economy.
The number of businesses that are pessimistic about the economy over the next 12 months jumped to 49 percent in the week following the referendum, up from 25 percent before the vote outcome, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. Expectations for sales, exports and investments over the next 12 months fell "off a cliff," the consulting firm said.
Even before the vote, business and investors had begun hunkering down. Foreign flows of capital into commercial real estate fell 50 percent in the first three months of 2016, and transactions fell further in the second quarter, according to the latest data from the Bank of England.
That caution was warranted, if the sharp drop in the British pound since the vote took place is any gauge. As the global financial markets continue to try to find a footing, currency traders continued to dump the U.K. currency. On Tuesday, sterling fell to another 31-year low against the dollar, extending losses to nearly 12 percent from levels before the Brexit results were announced.
Assurances from British government officials that the economy is sound, as well as central bank pledges to defend the currency, have done little to stem the slide.
"The U.K. has entered a period of acute and extraordinary uncertainty not seen since the Second World War," said analysts at IHS Global Insight in a note to clients. "The [country] currently does not have a political leadership or a cohesive government, let alone a plan with which to navigate a way forwards."
The cloud hanging over the crash in sterling, if the recent losses are sustained, could have one silver lining. A cheaper pound would make British exports more competitive in European markets and around the world, helping to narrow a widening trade deficit with Europe.
Whatever trade gains Britain sees from the export boost with a weaker currency, though, it will pay for in the form of higher-priced imports, which will now cost more when paid for with newly devalued pounds.
U.K. inflation is currently running at just 0.3 percent on an annual basis, which has given British central bankers plenty of leeway in holding interest rates at historically low levels, currently just half a percent. But if inflation rises, central bankers will have much less latitude in suppressing rates to stimulate the economy.