Would the last person left in David Cameron’s Britain please turn out the lights?

Get the hell out of here while there’s still time.

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, and all the other ways of saying goodbye sung by that creepy chorus of Austrian children in The Sound of Music  – I’m leaving this sun-forsaken country for happier climes and saltier shores. Here’s the good news: there’s still time for you to join me, and the flock of other expatriates making their way to countries with illiberal rights records and economic growth. So hitch up your caravan to a hornéd beast, tie your worldly possessions bulgingly to its flanks, and clad your teenage children with ill-fitting rags: it’s time to vacate this blessed plot.  

Now I realise I’m arguing against some deeply engrained prejudices in asking you to leave the UK. You’re probably thinking: filthy, lazy emigrants, leaving here, quitting their jobs, speaking our language, sending their money back into our country, easing the pressure on the NHS, educating their kids in someone else’s schools, what a disgusting way to live.  

So I’ve assembled several convincing arguments to show you that life’s better when it’s conducted elsewhere. Let the British Diaspora commence: let’s begin a stampede that will lead to David Cameron getting his head stuck inside a light bulb on the front page of the Sun. (In hindsight, it was only ever a matter of time until someone realised that Neil Kinnock’s head was exactly light bulb-shaped. The moral: don’t go into politics if you have a light bulb-shaped head. Democracy, eh?)

Here goes:

The Economy

We are living in a post-industrial, post-Fordist, Post Office closure economy, overseen by a smug 12-year old with an eminently punchable face, a 2:1 in History, and no other qualifications or real world experience; a 12-year old who considers his gap year the most exciting time of his life, and who regards quarterly growth of less than half of one per cent as a vindication of his existing prejudices. But many other Conservative Chancellors lacked training in economics, pleads Osborne’s biographer, Janan Ganesh. Yes. They were also crap. Norman Lamont’s career, for example, makes most sense if you assume that he was in fact a troll, offering opinions so patently contrary-to-fact that they must have been intended exclusively to enrage. “There are going to be no devaluations, no leaving the ERM.” What could this have been but a dark joke, or a work of conceptual art? We should be grateful that none of his Budgets contained Rick Astley videos.

And another thing. This last year, the price of a can of tuna has increased from around 60p to at least £1.20. That’s Quantitative Easing for you. Cheers, Monetary Policy Committee.

The Weather

On the Eighth Day, God turned down the saturation levels all across the UK, so that it would forever experience a sort of grey, Purgatorial permagloom. And He saw that it was oppressive. And He did nothing about it.  

Michael Gove’s face

Which is a synecdoche for our parliamentary system entire. In which small children hurl playground insults at one another, while an even smaller child tells them off for being too noisy. What happened to the elegant, innovative putdowns of Benjamin Disraeli, who once boasted of his opponents that he had “squabashed” them? Politicians used to take their jobs seriously: on becoming PM, Gladstone wrote "I ascend a steepening path, with a burden ever increasing in weight." David Cameron, by contrast, when considering the Premiership, boasted: "I think I’d be good at it." Walking around Whitehall, you can practically hear the sound of Chris Grayling licking his thin lips as he considers another way to make things slightly worse than they were before.   

And then there’s Michael Gove’s face itself. It’s the face of a man who can argue anything, knows little, and cares less. A face that needs glasses to make it look less grasping and unkind. A face untouched by natural light, or benevolence.

Stewart Lee

Thanks to whom it’s no longer acceptable to make jokes about the weather, people having sex, or the suffering of others. Instead, jokes must now be about other jokes, the exact mechanisms of which are to be painstakingly laid bare by analysis of the comic tropes and rhetorical structures they employ. Now, whenever I find myself making a joke anywhere within the borders of the United Kingdom, I think to myself: were the workings of this joke made explicit to its listener, would she consider it a clever, ironic and postmodern comment on our collective joke-making practices, or would she simply see it as a predictable and ritualistic attempt to cause her diaphragm to spasm for the purpose of developing our social relationship? Is its very comedy really just a tawdry attempt authentically to relate to another person, which, in being necessarily doomed to fail, is in fact a source of profound tragedy? Is she laughing with or at my attempt to laugh at my attempt to cause her to laugh with, but not at, me? Cheers, Stewart Lee.  

These are more than enough reasons for you to quit this scepter’d isle, quite frankly, and to provide any more would be to succumb to self-indulgence.

So fly, you fools. I’ll cover you.

Photograph: Getty Images
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Hannan Fodder: This week, Daniel Hannan gets his excuses in early

I didn't do it. 

Since Daniel Hannan, a formerly obscure MEP, has emerged as the anointed intellectual of the Brexit elite, The Staggers is charting his ascendancy...

When I started this column, there were some nay-sayers talking Britain down by doubting that I was seriously going to write about Daniel Hannan every week. Surely no one could be that obsessed with the activities of one obscure MEP? And surely no politician could say enough ludicrous things to be worthy of such an obsession?

They were wrong, on both counts. Daniel and I are as one on this: Leave and Remain, working hand in glove to deliver on our shared national mission. There’s a lesson there for my fellow Remoaners, I’m sure.

Anyway. It’s week three, and just as I was worrying what I might write this week, Dan has ridden to the rescue by writing not one but two columns making the same argument – using, indeed, many of the exact same phrases (“not a club, but a protection racket”). Like all the most effective political campaigns, Dan has a message of the week.

First up, on Monday, there was this headline, in the conservative American journal, the Washington Examiner:

“Why Brexit should work out for everyone”

And yesterday, there was his column on Conservative Home:

“We will get a good deal – because rational self-interest will overcome the Eurocrats’ fury”

The message of the two columns is straightforward: cooler heads will prevail. Britain wants an amicable separation. The EU needs Britain’s military strength and budget contributions, and both sides want to keep the single market intact.

The Con Home piece makes the further argument that it’s only the Eurocrats who want to be hardline about this. National governments – who have to answer to actual electorates – will be more willing to negotiate.

And so, for all the bluster now, Theresa May and Donald Tusk will be skipping through a meadow, arm in arm, before the year is out.

Before we go any further, I have a confession: I found myself nodding along with some of this. Yes, of course it’s in nobody’s interests to create unnecessary enmity between Britain and the continent. Of course no one will want to crash the economy. Of course.

I’ve been told by friends on the centre-right that Hannan has a compelling, faintly hypnotic quality when he speaks and, in retrospect, this brief moment of finding myself half-agreeing with him scares the living shit out of me. So from this point on, I’d like everyone to keep an eye on me in case I start going weird, and to give me a sharp whack round the back of the head if you ever catch me starting a tweet with the word, “Friends-”.

Anyway. Shortly after reading things, reality began to dawn for me in a way it apparently hasn’t for Daniel Hannan, and I began cataloguing the ways in which his argument is stupid.

Problem number one: Remarkably for a man who’s been in the European Parliament for nearly two decades, he’s misunderstood the EU. He notes that “deeper integration can be more like a religious dogma than a political creed”, but entirely misses the reason for this. For many Europeans, especially those from countries which didn’t have as much fun in the Second World War as Britain did, the EU, for all its myriad flaws, is something to which they feel an emotional attachment: not their country, but not something entirely separate from it either.

Consequently, it’s neither a club, nor a “protection racket”: it’s more akin to a family. A rational and sensible Brexit will be difficult for the exact same reasons that so few divorcing couples rationally agree not to bother wasting money on lawyers: because the very act of leaving feels like a betrayal.

Or, to put it more concisely, courtesy of Buzzfeed’s Marie Le Conte:

Problem number two: even if everyone was to negotiate purely in terms of rational interest, our interests are not the same. The over-riding goal of German policy for decades has been to hold the EU together, even if that creates other problems. (Exhibit A: Greece.) So there’s at least a chance that the German leadership will genuinely see deterring more departures as more important than mutual prosperity or a good relationship with Britain.

And France, whose presidential candidates are lining up to give Britain a kicking, is mysteriously not mentioned anywhere in either of Daniel’s columns, presumably because doing so would undermine his argument.

So – the list of priorities Hannan describes may look rational from a British perspective. Unfortunately, though, the people on the other side of the negotiating table won’t have a British perspective.

Problem number three is this line from the Con Home piece:

“Might it truly be more interested in deterring states from leaving than in promoting the welfare of its peoples? If so, there surely can be no further doubt that we were right to opt out.”

If there any rhetorical technique more skin-crawlingly horrible, than, “Your response to my behaviour justifies my behaviour”?

I could go on, about how there’s no reason to think that Daniel’s relatively gentle vision of Brexit is shared by Nigel Farage, UKIP, or a significant number of those who voted Leave. Or about the polls which show that, far from the EU’s response to the referendum pushing more European nations towards the door, support for the union has actually spiked since the referendum – that Britain has become not a beacon of hope but a cautionary tale.

But I’m running out of words, and there’ll be other chances to explore such things. So instead I’m going to end on this:

Hannan’s argument – that only an irrational Europe would not deliver a good Brexit – is remarkably, parodically self-serving. It allows him to believe that, if Brexit goes horribly wrong, well, it must all be the fault of those inflexible Eurocrats, mustn’t it? It can’t possibly be because Brexit was a bad idea in the first place, or because liberal Leavers used nasty, populist ones to achieve their goals.

Read today, there are elements of Hannan’s columns that are compelling, even persuasive. From the perspective of 2020, I fear, they might simply read like one long explanation of why nothing that has happened since will have been his fault.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.