Yesterday brought another round of the politics shows, and around the clumsily large, but no doubt high-tech, table at Sky News that is the centrepiece for Sophy Ridge on Sunday were a team of paper reviews including the loathsome Toby Young, whose contributions to such occasions have little intellectual value, but who gets invited along anyway, as he is a paid-up member of the Pundit Establishment.
Yes Tobes, bang to rights once again
Fellow paper reviewer Ian Dunt, with his characteristic Tigger-like confidence - which in his case is backed up by having actually done his homework on the subject - noted that much commentary on Brexit from those who had been so keen on the idea in the run-up to last year’s referendum has recently moved from the optimism of sunlit uplands to one of damage limitation. The EU’s Four Freedoms were a case in point.
Dunt homed in on the freedom - indeed, the right - to live, study, travel and work in any EU member state, which many young people cite as a reason for having voted to Remain. This, unless some kind of accommodation were made with the EU, would disappear, and as this freedom of movement is something the Government is committed to ending, the likelihood of any such accommodation being reached was remote.
Tobes was not happy about accepting this point, despite Dunt basing his argument in those pesky things called facts. No-one, he asserted, was suggesting that Britons ought not be able to live in other EU member states. This was mere whataboutery: what Dunt had described was the right to do so. Well, Tobes continued, he’d travelled to France before Britain was part of the EU, and so what?
Well, I too travelled to countries now EU member states before they acceded to membership, but this too misses the point: the freedom to travel is also a right, not something that may be allowed if the other country feels favourably disposed towards you. I also remember Spain before the end of the Falangist dictatorship, and am frequently thankful that that country, like Portugal and Greece, isn’t going back there any time soon.
Then Tobes tried to spin the idea that studying in other EU member states would not necessarily end, citing Norway being part of the Erasmus programme. Here, he truly took the biscuit: Norway, as any fule kno, is part of the Single Market and has as a consequence accepted the Four Freedoms, including freedom of movement. It also pays more per head of population to the EU than Britain.
He lied - and then boasted about it! Head, meet desk
Tobes was not impressing, but on he went: the Spanish Government wasn’t going to stop British citizens buying property in Marbella, was it? I mean, the property market would collapse! Again, the right to do something, and grudging acceptance until more well-off Scandinavians and Germans come along, are two very different things. But Tobes was duty-bound to rubbish a poll coming out of the LSE and quoted in the Observer.
Losing the freedoms to live, work, travel and study means what it says. For Toby Young to suggest otherwise is flagrantly, but predictably, dishonest. Which is why he later boasted about his performance on Twitter. He’s called Captain Bellend - because he’s a Bellend.