The Customs Union issue is slowly but inexorably making its way up the Brexit agenda, to the clear horror of the Tory right and their allies in the press. MPs are being urged, cajoled, and yes, bullied, into opposing the idea that Britain might not leave the Customs Union. It would mean leaving the EU was even more pointless than in the first place.
But here there was a problem: the arguments for remaining in the Customs Union, including sorting the looming problem of the Irish border, needed to be countered. And so it came to pass that someone had to make a suitably futile gesture, to put themselves forward to talk well, but lie badly. As so often in the past, this meant another tour of the media outlets by Dan, Dan The Oratory Man.
Hannan appeared on BBC Newsnight last night and managed to get his routinely dishonest propaganda past Evan Davis, but by this morning the game was up, as his claims, now codified in a column for the Murdoch Sun, were dismantled to a chorus of ridicule. “Swiss border shows free movement works perfectly well without customs union” told the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker. Then come the whoppers.
“I CROSS the EU’s border with Switzerland every month. Not that I’d notice if I didn’t know it was there … Most of the crossings between the EU and its neighbour are unmanned. Some are invisible … It is true there are booths in places, but these are mainly concerned with ensuring foreign vehicles have purchased Swiss road discs. The customs posts date from a time when exporters couldn’t file their declarations online” tells Hannan.
This is followed by highly selective quoting of someone from the BBC (an organisation generally hated, but useful when trying to stand up a pack of lies) and the warning “Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is reported to have said privately that unless we leave the customs union and recover our right to make independent trade deals, Brexit isn’t worth doing”. As if anyone gives a crap what Bozza thinks.
But after Hannan claimed “Turkey is in the customs union, yet it has heavily policed borders with the EU. Norway and Switzerland are not, and have free-movement deals with their neighbours like that between Ireland and the U.K. Their borders are largely unmanned and invisible”, the pushback began in earnest.
Denis MacShane responded “Sorry but @DanielJHannan not telling truth on @newsnight The Swiss-French border at all main crossings is staffed 7/24. It is illegal to take 1kg of meat into Switzerland from France”. Adam Payne showed his frustration at the dishonesty: “Hannan repeating this Swiss border bollocks on Newsnight right now. He’s either totally uninformed - which would be staggering given how obsessed with Brexit he is - or is deliberately misleading millions of people. Appalling either way”.
And one Tweeter showed us what that “largely unmanned and invisible” border looked like. It looked like a very hard border indeed. “If you close your eyes, the France-Switzerland border is sort of invisible” he observed. Hannan had been caught lying once again.
The media know Hannan is a congenital liar. So why do they keep asking him to pontificate, to write columns? The Murdoch press has its reasons. The BBC does not.