Do you sometimes wonder if we would have been better off in the EU? Go on, admit it, it’s only human. Only fools and fanatics are ever certain of their opinions.
Imagine if we had done the easy thing and stayed in, with Nick Clegg as our trusted adviser, negotiating for us on the inside. Surely he would put the people he is supposed to serve before his own self-interests, wouldn’t he?
I’m not so sure now. I had a glimpse into how Remainers would do business abroad on a recent goodwill mission to Eastern Europe.
The other two Brits on the trip didn’t immediately announce their fanaticism but there were telltale signs.
The long, self aggrandising questions were a symptom of conceit often found in Remainiacs. High status names were dropped, “I was talking to some investigators from the FBI”, self-references were made, “I wrote a piece recently about”, and impressive personal knowledge was showcased. So much so that nobody could work out what he was asking.
In the long embarrassing silence that followed each of these personal infomercials, I thought I could hear our hosts thinking, “Good grief – is this what the British are like?”
But it was to get much, much worse. Soon we were in a restaurant and once again the traditional journalistic model – ask questions, shut up and listen to people who know more than you – was eschewed for modern progressive discourse. Which seems to involve endless moral exhibitionism and cultural grandstanding.
Inevitably, we got onto the subject of Brexit. This is a taboo I avoid at all costs, partly because I don’t feel 100 per cent confident in my decision, but mainly because it creates the environment for pitchfork politics. You can’t publicly question the veracity of Jean Claude Drunker without inviting jeer-hadi from BBC-believers.
Our Romanian hosts would naturally be quite sensitive about our attitude to the EU, since they worry about the perception of their own country. The company we were visiting makes some of the best security software in the world, so I desperately want them to expand their operations in the UK. They won’t do that if they think we’re a bunch of small minded hate-mongers.
But, as soon became apparent, the other two were Remainiacs with no such empathy. Emboldened by a few drinks, they were soon trampling over any sensitivities, while singing their own praises, like a pair of embarrassing Tabooligans abroad.
Many a time I’ve cringed at the antics of fellow England fans at away games. But take it from me, these Tabooligans are no less damaging to our reputation. They make Harry the Dog look like Gandhi.
Amazingly, Tabooligans often hold quite responsible jobs and seem otherwise sensible. But, in sufficient numbers, some primal pack mentality overcomes them. When intoxicated by their self-importance or, worse, alcohol, they can be deadly.
I witnessed this terrifying transformation first hand in a restaurant on the last night of our stay. Soon after the downing of the aperitifs, the first tentative chants started up. These are based on folklore about non-existent enemies – a mythical tribe that supposedly dominates Britain – The Xenophobes.
Tragically, our hosts were taken in by all this, perhaps because bad news always makes more impact. Nobody seemed to notice that the Tabooligans’ stories didn’t add up. Tabooligan 1 told the Romanians about some pitiful old people he knew who voted for Brexit on flawed logic. But later, when Tabooligan 2 upped the ante, and said he’d never even met any Brexit voters, Tab 1 started chanting the same song! He’s either met them or he hasn’t – he can’t be both.
As more courses of fine Romanian wines and spirits were downed, the Tabs’ claims got even more extreme. I was a bit worried about this, as I didn’t want the Romanians believing that 52 per cent of the population of Britain hates them. I’d been in the country for several days beforehand and I must say I love them now. They don’t seem to like gypsies, but one man said the best thing about the EU was that many of the gypsies have gone to London!
I’m worried our hosts think we don’t like Romanians, because that is exactly what my fellow countrymen were telling them. Over and over again! These Clegg supporters only seemed to have one song, and they repeated it endlessly.
Now, I know what you’re going to say. I should have said something. I did try at one stage to reason with them. After the main course, Tabooligan A suddenly started claiming, with complete confidence, every single one of the Leavers is a racist. Despite the fact he’d earlier said he didn’t know any! I made a pathetically mild protest, it has to be said. But even the words “come on, how can you say that?” were treated with disdain. He accepted my point, but as soon as I had to leave the table, everything changed. When I came back into the restaurant, after a cigarette break, there’d be all sorts of “shush”-ing. As I re-joined the table they always seemed to re-embarking on an awkward new topic that seemed to be slow getting off the ground. Almost as if they were changing topic!
After a few more drinks they got medieval. Soon they were feeding off each other, swapping fanciful tales of mythical beasts in Britain that, for some unexplained reason, want to stop Britain trading altogether. The map of Britain they were sketching was full of areas in which, “Here be Dragons”.
Next it was on to President Trump (well, they were, I was now out of the conversation) and Tab B was in his element, making all kinds of wild, unsubstantiated claims about some kind of highly organised gang of international right wing cut throats. When he got onto the supposed war of ideas between the Somewhere and the Anywheres, I assumed he’d moved on to science fiction. (I must confess at that point I’d never heard of Dave Goodhart’s book – I’m a contributor, not a political activist).
Suffice it to say, one of the Romanians took this to heart – “well, I suppose when they attack the Anywheres they are attacking people like me”- and there was nobody there to tell him otherwise. I had no idea what they meant and Tabooligan B seemed to desperately want to make him feel worse!
So there you have it. Given the chance to represent us abroad, Remainiacs will gladly blacken all our reputations, in order to make themselves look good by comparison.
I’m still not sure about Brexit and the machinations of disentangling ourselves. But I’m so glad I don’t have to trust Nick Clegg and all the other Remainiacs to negotiate a good deal on my behalf. Something tells me they wouldn’t do much.
(Image: Garry Knight)