As the business of Britain’s departure from the EU gets under way in Parliament, so the happy Brexit cheerleaders are popping up to tell anyone not yet totally switched off by the whole business how wonderful life will be outside the European club. We have already been told that a crash in the value of our currency is nothing to be concerned about, and Sterling was overvalued anyway. A mere flesh wound.
What am I bid for this latest whopper?
Next, we will be told that any downward correction in share prices makes them more affordable, and thus the intellectual level the spin and sophistry. There are also those for whom mere spin is not sufficient: downright falsehood is for them as natural as breathing. That brings us to the latest idiocy from MEP and occasional Tory Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, who has decided to regale the world about EU wine tariffs.
Hannan took grave exception to a Sky News report on a Brexit food price increase warning. This was for him inexcusable: there should be no bad news to cloud his horizon. So he took to Twitter to tell “This is idiotic. Chilean wine 14% more expensive? It's currently subject to a 32% EU tariff, which we can now scrap”. That’s a rather steep-looking tariff. It’s also totally untrue; the actual figure is Zero.
That is because Chile and the EU have a free trade agreement.
So what did Hannan do? He leapt in one bound from frying pan to fire as he claimed “Turns out the EU applies a 32% tariff to all New World wine except Chile's. Mea culpa”. This, too, is totally untrue. The percentage is in the low single figures.
After noting that Hannan is a free trade obsessive who did not know about the EU and Chile having an agreement for, er, free trade, Tom Forth gave an example of why Dan was still wrong: “The EU has a tariff-free quota with South Africa and the common tariff is only about 8p a bottle anyway”. He added a table which backed up his claim with some of that mysterious stuff called factual evidence. And there was more.
Forth, unable to find any tariff that so much as approximated to Hannan’s 32% claim, did more of that stuff called investigation, which Dan clearly finds tiresome, and discovered the most probable cause for the MEP’s mistake: “Returning to wine tariffs, I think @DanielJHannan has misread 32€/hl as 32%. That would be my best guess”. That’s a seriously bad mistake, but then, Hannan and facts, eh?
Tom Forth concluded with this less than totally subtle - but justified - dig at Hannan’s factual ineptitude: “If I ran Manchester University ... I'd design this poster … ‘Daniel Hannan went to Oxford … Aim higher … Apply to Manchester today’”.
And while it’s easy to laugh at Hannan’s blundering falsehoods, there is a serious point here: he has been taken at face value as an honest witness on the EU for years, without the kind of scrutiny from the media that is now being applied to his claims. Taking Hannan at face value has brought us to a point where the currency has tanked, and worse is on the way. And we haven’t even triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty yet.
There may, in the near future, be another book in the style of the 1940 publication Guilty Men. And if there is, Daniel Hannan will feature prominently in its pages.