We asked two of the most eloquent voices in the EU referendum debate to put their best arguments in the most condensed form — and gave them a few words to rebut each other.
• The six best reasons to vote Remain, by Matthew Parris, with a response from Daniel Hannan
• The six best reasons to vote Leave, by Daniel Hannan, with a response from Matthew Parris
The Spectator Podcast
For me, as for so many people, it’s a heart versus head issue. I’m emotionally drawn to Europe. I speak French and Spanish and have lived and worked all over the Continent. I’ve made many friends among the Brussels functionaries. Lots of them, naturally, are committed Euro-federalists. Yet they are also decent neighbours, loyal companions and generous hosts. I feel twinges of unease about disappointing them, especially the anglophiles.
Like almost everyone, I’ve piled angrily into this fight. But as the debate nears resolution I feel ashamed of all my furious certainties. In the end, none of us knows, and we shouldn’t pretend to. So I’ll try now to express more temperately six thoughts that persist as the early rage subsides.
From the first three you’ll see that I’m beginning to understand that for many the EU is now a whipping boy.
We had been engaged for maybe three weeks before it became apparent I’d be the one throwing hysterical wedding-related hissy fits. In no time, I had turned from a reasonable sort of chap into a wailing, screaming princeling, demanding white-gloved waiters, palm trees and a grand entrance by vintage Rolls-Royce. Like the hideous creature that pops out of John Hurt in Alien, so groomzilla was born.
At least, this is according to my soon-to-be wife.
Tom Cruise is an exceptionally beautiful American man with an invincible smile, but he is a member of a cult called Scientology. Virginia Raggi is an exceptionally beautiful Italian woman with an invincible smile but she is a member of a cult called the MoVimento Cinque Stelle (M5S). I understand the attraction of cults in a world in which God has disappeared and our lives are so boringly bad and our political systems worse.
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Women of the world unite! Back Hillary Clinton! Otherwise, prepare to be damned to that special place in hell that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright insists exists ‘for women who don’t help each other’!
Exclamation marks are crucial to discussing Hillary Clinton for President.
An intelligent middle-aged, middle-class woman told me the other day that she plans to vote Leave on 23 June because she no longer believes a word that David Cameron says. She cited his pre-election pledges on repatriation of powers from Brussels, repeal of human right legislation and — of course — immigration.
I said that, should she get her Brexit, the Prime Minister is likely to be supplanted by Boris Johnson, who conducts one-night stands with truth only on alternate wet Wednesdays.
In the few days I’ve spent in Paris, I’d say the terror alert level is fluctuating between a little antsy, really quite nervous and eye-twitching, hair-tearing, run for your lives woo-woo. People still go about their business, but there are wary looks on the Metro and a palpable sense that they could really do without the stress of hosting a major international football tournament, what with so many nutters running about and the Belgians useless, as usual.
It’s time to scuttle under a rock if you are a Folkestone or Cornish crab: 7,000 of them will be consumed in Royal Ascot week, along with 2,900 lobsters, 160,000 glasses of Pimm’s, 51,000 bottles of champagne and 30,000 chocolate eclairs. Better get your chopper booking in fast, too: 400 helicopters will descend on to the Berkshire course during the week.
In purely racing terms, Royal Ascot isn’t quite yet a Dubai with rhododendrons.