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.
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.