How brilliant was that cheer on Question Time last night? Isabel Oakeshott said Theresa May should just walk away from the EU. Fiona Bruce asked her if she meant we should pursue ‘No Deal’. ‘Yes’, said Oakeshott and there it was, instantly, contagiously, the loudest cheer I can remember hearing from a Question Time audience. This was no polite applause or murmur of approval. It was a statement — a noisy, rebellious statement of the people’s continuing and profound attachment to the idea of leaving the European Union, deal or no deal.
It was a cheer that should echo through the nation. That will chill the bones of the political establishment. Which will rattle a commentariat that ceaselessly pumps out columns on how awful No Deal would be. For this cheer — from an audience in the largely working-class, Labour-leaning city of Derby — was a stark reminder that there are people out there, a great many people, who do not share the political class’s fear of No Deal. Who haven’t been won over by the non-stop fearmongering about No Deal. Who flat-out refuse to buy the media’s horror stories about how No Deal will lead to medicine shortages, and food riots, and chaos in Dover, and plagues of locusts. So much for Leave voters being ‘low information’, easily misled idiots who can be brainwashed by adverts on buses and Facebook memes — this cheer was proof that these people are more than capable of thinking for themselves and resisting the establishment’s ideology of fear around No Deal.
The cheer will have horrified the political class. All wings of it. For the past few days, political bigwigs, loads of MPs, business leaders and supposedly radical Corbynistas — what a bizarre mix! — have been imploring Theresa May to take No Deal off the table.