I was pleased to be at a small dinner last night at which Daniel Hannan, the conservative member of the European Parliament, was a guest. Hannan, along with Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, led the Brexit campaign. He will shortly be looking for work. Last Thursday’s vote to leave the EU was the culmination of a campaign he embarked upon in 1990 when he was 19. Its success will have effect of abolishing his position as an MEP, but the dynamic young politician was beaming. Britain’s exit from the EU and coming assumption of the reins of its own destiny was the fulfillment of a dream.
I cannot tell what proportion of Brexit hysteria is feigned. Among ordinary people, who have listened to months of skirling admonition from Project Fear politicians and special interests, I suspect that the unhappiness is genuine if uninformed. But what are we to make of such hyperbolic absurdities as today’s front-page, above-the-fold headline in The Times: “England’s Darkest Day”?
Is it really? Is taking a step to recover your sovereignty really worse than, say, the Blitz? Worse that the first day of the battle of the Somme, when the Brits suffered some 57,000 casualties? There is a lot of manufactured melodrama about and Dan Hannan did a splendid job of quashing it.
He let the air out of several of the more perfervid rumors that have sprung up like mushrooms after a rain. As has been widely reported, an online petition is circulating to demand a new referendum. As of last night, it was said to have collected some 3.6 million signatures. But it turns out that many of the “signatories” are from IP addresses outside of Britain, while many others are fake signatures generated by a hacker’s script.
It is the same with all the doleful tales of banks and other businesses decamping from Britain. It’s all a tissue of fabrication and misrepresentation. In a few brisk sentences, Hannan outlined what really is to come for Britain. The Tories would move quickly to fill the vacuum left by David Cameron’s announced resignation. The likely leader (“the hot favorite,” as The Telegraph put it this morning) was Boris Johnson, who would likely be joined by Michael Gove, the lord chancellor, and (rumors have it) the Cameron stalwart George Osborne, chancellor of the Exchequer. Osborne’s support would be particularly welcome since he was a vocal proponent of Britain’s remaining in the EU. If, as looks likely this morning, he joins Boris and Michael Gove, he would help unify the party and all-but-assure Boris’s ascension to Number 10.
The thing that was most encouraging about Dan Hannan’s observations was his upbeat assessment of Britain’s prospects in the months ahead. Not only did he put paid to the silly scare rumors making the rounds — that Brits would no longer be able to travel in the continent on holiday, for example — but he also outlined several new alliances Britain might make going forward.
The media hysteria will doubtless continue for a while. But it is encouraging that Team Boris is moving with such dispatch and, it must be said, with such a jovial, forward-looking spirit to set the ship of state back on course. By contrast, the campaign to put forward the Tory Remainer Theresa May, the home secretary, seems cramped and desperate. (The Times has anointed her as the party favorite, but that is news to the rest of the world.)
It’s all happening just in time. As The Telegraph reports this morning, the EU is set to crack down on toasters, hair dryers, and electric tea kettles because some nameless bureaucrat in Brussels has decided they are not sufficiently “green.” Really, you cannot make it up. “The EU,” the paper reports with a smile, “is poised to ban high-powered appliances such as kettles, toasters, hair-dryers within months of Britain’s referendum vote, despite senior officials admitting the plan has brought them ‘ridicule.’” It turns out that the plan has been around for months, but the Eurocrats delayed unveiling it “for fear of undermining the referendum campaign if they were perceived as an assault on the British staples of tea and toast.”
A decade ago, the EU was telling Brits what sort of bananas they could eat. Now it wants to supervise their toasters. It seems ridiculous. It is ridiculous. But out of that tapestry of minor interdictions tyranny is born.
The Brexit vote was not “anti-immigrant,” racist, or xenophobic, as the left-wing media keep trying to imply. But it was about the reassertion of British freedom, what Hannan, in an interview yesterday with the truly repellent Christiane Amanpour, called the “repatriation of power.” “Are you concerned about a rise in hate crimes following Brexit?” Amanpour several times asked him. When he pointed out that there was no connection between the Brexit vote and “hate crimes,” she riposted with, So you don’t care about the rise in hate crimes. (And when did you stop beating your wife, Mr. Hannan?)
It is worth watching that interview to see how the left-wing Establishment twists facts and badgers those who do not subscribe to their narrative. Fortunately, Daniel Hannan is as dogged as Christiane Amanpour is hectoring, and he finally managed to set the record straight with a crisp description of what the leave vote was all about: “an internationalist, global Britain, a more deregulated Brtian, a freer Britain, and a more Democratic Britain, one that is interested and engaged with the affairs every continent, including Europe.”
The Christiane Amanpours of the world maintain that the Brexit vote was about stopping immigration and asserting racist attitudes. What it really was about is the answer to the question, Who rules? It should not be up to a foreign court to decide who or how many may immigrate to Britain: that is a question for Parliament to decide.
This is how democracies work, but you wouldn’t know it from the outpouring of hysteria from the left.