Brendan O’Neill

Dream on, Guy Verhofstadt: Brexit won’t be reversed

Dream on, Guy Verhofstadt: Brexit won't be reversed
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Eurocrats still don’t get it. They still don’t get Brexit. They still don’t understand that us Brits didn’t vote for some kind of trial separation from the EU. No, we voted for a full and everlasting divorce. There’s no going back. We’re out (or will be soon) and we’re staying out.

The latest EU bigwig to advertise his ignorance about Brexit is Guy Verhofstadt, the EU parliament’s ‘Brexit negotiator’ (that’s Eurospeak for Brexit wrecker). On the Today programme he said he agreed with Labour MEP Seb Dance, who said the UK is merely on ‘sabbatical’ from the EU. We’ll be back, said Dance.

‘I think that will happen, yes, [but] it’s difficult to say when’, said Verhofstadt. He said that in the ‘coming decades’, the ‘young generation’ will demand a return to the bosom of Brussels. ‘Maybe you will not see it in my life, but it will happen’, he said.

There are two things to say about this fantasy of Brexit being reversed in a few decades’ time. The first is that it shows what a massive and positive impact the vote for Boris Johnson had in December. It really winded Remainer elites and their buddies in Brussels.

After all, just a few months ago the likes of Verhofstadt were saying Brexit could be blocked entirely; prevented from happening; written out of history as if it were a minor embarrassing event rather than the largest act of democracy in the history of the United Kingdom.

Who can forget when Verhofstadt traipsed around London with the Lib Dems, cheering their alarmingly anti-democratic proposal of stopping Brexit in its tracks. He even posed alongside their slogan ‘Bollocks to Brexit’, not realising or simply not caring, that to millions of Brits it looked like he was saying: ‘Bollocks to democracy. Bollocks to your political beliefs. Bollocks to the right to vote.’

He ranted and raved against Brexit. He said it risked ‘bringing disaster upon [the UK], its economy, its citizens’.

He said Brexiteers were the ‘real traitors’. (Funnily enough, that wasn’t condemned by Remain-leaning MPs who went berserk at Boris Johnson for saying ‘humbug’.)

So the fact that Verhofstadt is now admitting that Brexit won’t be reversed in his lifetime is a kind of progress. It suggests the huge majority won by Boris, largely on the platform of ‘Get Brexit Done’, and with the assistance of an army of rebellious ‘red wall’ Labour Leavers, has knocked the anti-Brexit mob for six.

It has shattered their anti-democratic dreams, for now at least. It has made them see what they should have seen more than three-and-a-half years ago: that British voters are serious about leaving the EU.

It isn’t a whim. It isn’t a dumb idea implanted in our heads by rich, wicked demagogues, as some anti-Brexit snobs would have you believe. It is a deeply held conviction and one the government must act upon.

Verhofstadt seems to recognise that. And so he has evolved. He has gone from grinning next to the insulting slogan ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ to hoping, a little tragically, that at some point in the future Brits will change their minds. Behind all the bluster, this is a man giving off all the vibes of defeat. And about time too.

But the second thing to say about the idea that Brexit is a mere sabbatical is: ‘Dream on.’ Sorry, Guy, but even after your lifetime, Brexit isn’t being reversed. This is one of the clearest, most solid, most popular things Britons have ever voted for. It’s going to last.

And it’s going to last partly thanks to people like Verhofstadt. And Jean-Claude Juncker. And Donald Tusk. These people don’t realise just how much their anti-Brexit and anti-democratic hysteria over the past three years has fortified us Leavers; how much it has convinced us we were right to vote out.

Whether it’s Tusk saying there’s a special place in hell for Brexiteers who failed to devise a plan, or Juncker saying that lying is sometimes justified, these imperious bureaucrats have reminded us again and again of the sanity of Brexit.

Verhofstadt played a key role here. His rant in the European parliament about the need for nation states to sacrifice even more sovereignty to Brussels had a huge impact on Brits. It went viral. The crisis in Europe is all because ‘member states are reluctant to transfer new powers and sovereignty to the European Union’, he said, furiously, sounding like an irate emperor disgusted by his subjects. That did as much as anything else to clarify to British voters what was at stake in all this: sovereignty itself; the right of the British nation and its people to determine their own affairs.

So, no, this is not a sabbatical. We’re never going back. And we’re never going back because people like you, Guy, have made it clear what the EU really wants: to drain the lifeblood from democracy itself and make nation states subservient to the imperial whims of you and your colleagues. For that, if nothing else, we thank you.

Written byBrendan O’Neill

Brendan O’Neill is the editor of Spiked and a columnist for The Australian and The Big Issue.

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