Some politicians and commentators in the UK have not yet understood the reality of where the aftermath of the EU referendum, and the subsequent triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, leaves this country. What is most striking about this motley convocation of innocent ignorance is that one of their number has been an enthusiast for Britain to leave the EU over many years: step forward occasional Tory and MEP Daniel Hannan.
For Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, there are still arguments to pick, issues to rail over, talking points to consider. But I have news for him, and for all those who take anything he says seriously. And it can be put directly: the other 27 EU member states, their peoples and their Governments aren’t interested. They no longer care, and why should they? Britain has made its decision, the EU27 accept that, and now they are moving on.
Too many commentators are still fixated on going over the arguments, and after that lecturing the rest of the EU as to why they’ll miss us when we’re gone. Hannan adds the futile whataboutery of sovereignty, which he proudly displays as some kind of ultimate prize for leaving the EU. But he is only doing this to deflect from the crude use of immigration to scare voters into joining him in the Leave camp.
Moreover, as the Government has now admitted, there was no loss of sovereignty in the first place, and so Hannan is in need of the nearest extinguisher for his burning trousers - and not for the first time. His recent Twitter excursions encapsulate his futile deployment of gesture politics, and show why he, and too many others, just don’t get it.
“Further evidence that voters care more about sovereignty than about immigration. Not that it'll convince the ‘Brexit was racist’ crowd” he announces, but the only ones playing the race card were his own side. And once more he is wrong about sovereignty, but that did not dissuade him from following up with “Yet another poll showing that sovereignty, not free movement, is the key issue. As Leavers have known all along”.
Wrong, wrong, and thrice wrong. Worse, as I said, nobody outside the UK cares. So when Hannan whined “If the EU truly wanted Britain to stay, it would offer the kind of looser deal that David Cameron initially wanted. But it won’t”, he showed that he cannot understand the reality of what has happened. So let me put him and his pals straight.
The discussion of what deal might or might not be offered is over. We voted, our Government then triggered Article 50. That train left the station some time ago. Hannan is free to play his fantasy “what if” games to his heart’s content, but in the real world, the rest of the EU has, as I pointed out the other day, accepted our decision. They are now continuing their journey without us aboard. We didn’t board the train.
That isn’t to say the EU27 is uncaring about our fate, only that it is generally disinterested. British commentators can shout “You’ll miss us now we’re gone” as much as they like; this they are free to do. But the time for argument is over. The issue is no longer up for discussion. This one has run its course. It’s dead. Morte.
Daniel Hannan is out of ideas, out of excuses, and out of time. And he’s increasingly out of his political depth. Which is why he is not waving, but drowning.