Julie Burchill Julie Burchill

Why I’m giving up on diehard Remainers

(Photo: Getty)

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Eat less, move more? Or perhaps you’re a contrary cuss aiming to eat more and move less? Ever perverse, I plan a little exercise which will leave me both more streamlined yet more replete; by culling what I can only call ‘swivel-eyed Remainers’ from my friendship group, both online and IRL.

‘Swivel-eyed’ is thought to have originated in the early 1990s of a certain type of Conservative politician; Simon Hoggart wrote of those who had a ‘swivel-eyed belief in privatisation’. When John Redwood was first appointed to the Cabinet in the 1993 reshuffle, some clubbable Tory sneered ‘We want fewer swivel-eyed ideologues, not more’. The Conservative MP Tim Collins described the Tories who backed Redwood’s 1995 campaign for leadership as the ‘swivel-eyed barmy army from Ward Eight at Broadmoor’. It was reportedly the journalist Euan Ferguson who first used the complete phrase in a 1997 Observer column to describe the Conservative Christian Fellowship, who he pondered could run a candidate who might well be ‘a swivel-eyed loon who glories in pious deceit.’ With the rise of Ukip, the increasingly impotent liberal press began to apply it exclusively to Brexiteers.

Having diehard Remainer friends – even after all these years – still feels like losing loved ones to a cult

But now it’s many Remainers who are the swivel-eyed loons, spitting hatred for their fellow man through spittle-flecked lips – and I, for one, am done with humouring them. In 2023 it will be seven years since the referendum and I simply cannot face the thought of another season listening to this drivelling on. There are of course plenty of Remainers who have accepted the Brexit vote. Even Keir Starmer – the Remainer’s Remainer – understands that to keep banging on about Brexit is the quickest way to make oneself appear like a stuck old record.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in