What you really should have done if you were in Birmingham on Monday this week was skip the not notably riveting Philip Hammond speech, and head instead for the fringe event run by the Bruges Group starring me, Professor David Myddelton and Charles Moore.
I can’t speak for my performance (modesty forbids me) but my fellow panellists were brilliant: funny, incisive and as optimistic as you’d expect of a pair of ardent Brexiteers addressing the victorious home crowd for probably the first time since that happy day in June.
‘Which of us here could ever have imagined that we’re actually part of the majority: the 52 per cent?’ I asked. And lots of people clapped at the wonderful warm feeling this gave them. But then I introduced a worm into their apple. ‘What we learned on 24 June is that the establishment elite are not representative of the country at large. And what we have learned since is that they are not about to give up any time soon…’
The most obvious example is this new distinction, endlessly promulgated by the BBC, between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit. No one talked about such a thing in the run-up to the referendum. The only people talking about it now are bitter Remainers trying to frustrate the democratic process. Most of us who voted for Brexit want it good and strong and hard.
This is why I think our ex-Remainer PM Theresa May played such a blinder with her forthright Sunday speech on Brexit. Yes I know there are those — even on the Leave side of the argument — who insist it isn’t possible, that there are all manner of complications which will stop us getting our way on tariff-free trade and freedom of movement. But you don’t go into negotiations conceding the pass before you’ve even begun.