Brexit: A Freer, More Democratic, More Internationalist Britain
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.