THERE is a nice bottle of bubbly on ice and I’ll certainly be raising a toast at 11pm tonight when the UK finally frees itself from the protectionist cartel that is the European Union.
But the overwhelming feeling is one of relief, rather than celebration. Relief that we have survived what amounted to an establishment coup against the people, and navigated our departure with our democracy – just about – intact.
The last three and a half years have been the most disturbing period I can recall in our nation’s recent history – and a lot of this is to do with the tone of the debate rather than the substance of the arguments.
The referendum result in 2016 came as a terrible shock to many, but democracy can only survive if the losers in a democratic vote accept the result and we were promised by then Prime Minister David Cameron that “the Government will implement what you decide”.
But it didn’t turn out like that. Instead the referendum result unleashed a tide of hatred directed at ordinary voters, the like of which we have never witnessed before.
Leave voters were constantly smeared as stupid, ignorant, racists, bigots, knuckle-dragging xenophobes and Nazis. Northerners, older and working class people came in for particularly virulent abuse.
All this for the apparently unforgiveable sin of wishing to live in a free and independent country once again.
At first I put this down to ‘sore loser syndrome’. This is an incredibly spoilt generation who are used to always getting their own way. Once they got over the shock of losing for once, they would calm down a bit.
Not a bit of it – in fact it got progressively worse. Eventually Leavers such as myself learned to avoid the topic of Brexit entirely in social situations for fear of some spittle-flecked Remainer screaming in your face that: “You’re worse than Hitler!”
Even worse, the Remainer establishment set out to deliberately subvert our democracy using every tool at its disposal, ripping up decades of convention and trashing Parliament’s reputation and the Supreme Court’s political neutrality in the process.
In those dark days I began to fear that the Remainers would succeed in simply “cancelling” Brexit, causing incalculable damage to our democratic institutions.
The question of whether our democracy could survive this assault became much more important than the relatively trivial matter of whether we stayed in the EU.
Remember also at this time the ardent Remainers in the Labour, SNP and Lib Dem parties had the option to compromise by voting for Theresa May’s half-in, half-out deal. But they rejected any accommodation. Only total victory against Brexit would do.
Luckily, ordinary voters thought differently and in six separate elections – the 2014 and 2019 European elections, the 2015 and 2017 general elections, the 2016 referendum itself and Boris Johnson’s thumping victory last month – they consistently voted to leave. Democracy has won a famous victory.
But why have so-called progressives wrapped themselves in the EU flag like the jingoists of Victorian times? After all, the EU is what leftists of Tony Benn’s vintage would have called a “big businessman’s club”, ruled by a top-down unelected bureaucracy that deliberately discriminates against the developing world. The last word you would use to describe the EU is “progressive”.
Then it struck me – this has nothing to do with the facts (which are indisputable) but everything to do with emotion. Being pro-EU is all about self-image. It is a way of displaying your virtue and telling everyone what a cool, modern person you are. Brexit has destroyed this illusion and that is why Remainers are so utterly furious all the time.
Take, for example, the absurd fuss over the Brexit commemorative 50 pence coin, with many Remainers, such as Alastair Campbell and Lord Adonis, saying they won’t accept it in their change. This is not the act of rational people.
I liked the tongue in cheek suggestion given to Remainers that they should send their 50 pences to Brussels and receive 20p back from the EU, with strict instructions on how to spend it. It would be like they never left!
Tonight I’ll be making a toast I learned in France many years ago: “Je lève mon verre à la liberté.” Santé, Prost, Cin Cin, Salud and Cheers!