I have always loved the story of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who refused to believe the Second World War was over and stayed hiding in the Philippines until his former commanding officer was brought out of retirement and ordered him to surrender.
That was in, 1974, 29 years after the end of hostilities. But I wouldn’t bet on the final Remainer holdouts giving up their struggle so quickly. If Lord Kerr of Kinlochard can be gently persuaded out from behind one of the red benches in the House of Lords before 2049 – when he’ll be 106 – I would consider it a triumph of negotiation. It would be an even greater wonder if Lords Adonis and Heseltine could be tempted out by the same date.
Lord Kerr, in case you have forgotten, is the former diplomat who wrote article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Today, he claims he never expected any country to actually use it, and he doesn’t believe any other country will be so ‘stupid’ to use it again. Indeed, he claims, article 50 was only drawn up in the hope that it might allow the EU to get rid of a country which had fallen into dictatorship – as many feared Austria would with the rise of Jorg Haider. The possibility that a country might ever want to leave the EU, following a majority vote in a referendum, seems not to have occurred to the EU’s leaders. Lord Kerr’s only way of coping with what has happened seems to be to dismiss the British public as stupid.
If Lord Kerr has any access to television, radio or the internet in his hideaway, surely, he has already seen what happens when you try to dismiss half the population as stupid. They tend to react not by saying ‘Oh, yes, I suppose we were a bit silly, weren’t we’, but by reaffirming their views whenever they have the opportunity to do so. At least Hillary Clinton only defamed a quarter of the US population by calling half of Trump’s supporters a ‘basket of deplorables’. Lord Kerr seems to think a full 52 percent of the UK population is stupid. We have already had three and a half years of this sort of thing, but alas, it doesn’t seem it is quite over yet. Indeed, I suspect the Remainer holdouts will still be fighting the 2016 referendum, still insisting that Brexit is the height of lunacy, if Britain now experiences what Japan did after the end of World War Two: three decades of economic miracle.