For decades — even before it had its name, which sounds thrilling, as words with an X in them tend to — I’ve been a Brexiter. I even mistrusted the Common Market, as we called the mild-mannered Dr Jekyll before it showed us the deformed, power-crazed face of the EU’s Mr Hyde.
The adored MP of my childhood, Tony Benn, preached against it in any shape or form. ‘When I saw how the European Union was developing,’ he said, ‘it was very obvious what they had in mind was not democratic. In Britain, you vote for a government so the government has to listen to you, and if you don’t like it you can change it.’
I’m aware that being against the EU has always been about as popular in ‘civilised’ circles as being pro-capital punishment. (Which I also am.) Imagine my delight when, in recent months, two of the contemporaries I admire most — Suzanne Moore at the Guardian and Janice Turner at the Times — wrote magnificent columns in support of Brexit. And interestingly, they took robustly feminist views of the proceedings, which is handy, because of the third of Britons undecided on how to vote on 23 June, 60 per cent of them are women.
From Britain’s dubious induction into the wretched gang by that arch-misogynist Ted Heath to Neil Kinnock’s shameful monstering of the brave Brussels whistleblower Marta Andreasen, it’s hard not to see the EU as the biggest boy’s club of all. The recent letter by the ‘Women In’ group claimed that Europe has given us equal pay and anti-discrimination laws — but countries outside the Magic Circle have those too, while inside (Ireland closest to home) are only just dragging their attitudes to women into the 20th century.