The moment all those optimistic, happy-clappy, smiling, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and, let us not drive this one round the houses for too long, utterly delusional campaigners have fought for so long to see has now come to pass: our not at all unelected Prime Minister has signed the letter that will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and set in train the process by which Britain leaves the European Union.
To accompany this occasion, the usual raft of bullshit sound bites has been launched: Britain will be truly global (will we trade with more countries as a result? Don’t ask), the EU will smile on us because they need us more than we need them (not true), the Commonwealth will embrace us with open arms (it won’t), and our Parliament will once more be sovereign (which it was all along). So what of the press reaction?
Very little of this has ventured anywhere near reality: apart from the Guardian, which has at least pitched an honest headline - “Today Britain steps into the unknown” - and the Murdoch Times, which has been granted permission not to drink the Kool-Aid and has therefore given readers the dispassionate “The eyes of history are watching … May triggers Britain’s EU departure”, that delusion has been almost complete.
For those still employed by the increasingly downmarket and desperate Telegraph, there is no room for anything resembling the intellectual process: for them, it is a case of “do as you are told”, embodied by the headline “Unite behind Brexit, says May … Prime Minister tells Britons to put aside differences as she dispatches Article 50 letter to Brussels”. Thanks, but I’ll make up my own mind about this particular clusterf***.
Moving from the Buckingham Palace Road bunker to that at Northcliffe House, the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre (a multi-millionaire bully boy who won’t suffer, no matter how screwed the country becomes) have really been on the strong stuff, telling readers “FREEDOM”. What those readers will be freed from is another matter. But we are left in no doubt that this is “a historic day for Britain”.
For those employed by Richard “Dirty” Desmond to churn out the Express, there is at least some relief that they can focus somewhere other than the meltdown in their chosen party, UKIP. They talk of “Theresa May’s No-Nonsense Message To Brussels … DEAR EU, WE’RE LEAVING YOU … PM signs letter to trigger our EU exit today”. She signed it yesterday evening, and the exit doesn’t take place for two years. Still, details, eh?
But the Pièce de Résistance was the moment of rapture for the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, once more believing all those other 27 EU member states give a flying foxtrot what they think. “Today, as our PM triggers Britain’s exit from the EU, we beam this message from the iconic White Cliffs to our neighbours … DOVER AND OUT”. Gosh, all those on mainland Europe must be quaking in their boots. Or not.
For so much of our free and fearless press, the delusion is complete: freedom we already had, independence we never lost, opportunity that was always there, the global trade we already enjoyed. Still, there is that Vision and Boundless Hope and Optimism to look forward to. And, of course, ignoring every warning from history.