Daniel Hannan's week: saucy thoughts on gender, and why Marine Le Pen is left-wing

Busy, busy, busy.

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Both the best and the worst thing about writing this column is that there’s just so much damned material. Daniel Hannan has done what precious few of us will ever managed, and achieved his life’s ambition, of getting Britain to vote to leave the European Union. Many of us, in such a situation, would no doubt take a well-earned break.

Not our Daniel, though. He’s still tweeting, writing, agitating to show that Brexit Is Good and that any bad things that may come from it are definitely Not His Fault (and are indeed the fault of the left). What’s more, he’s still MEP for the South East of England – still bravely taking a salary from a job he's campaigned to abolish. Such hard work and self-sacrifice can bring a tear to the eye.

But one side effect of all this is that, once again, I’m not entirely sure what I should be writing about. So instead, let’s take a look at some of the things Dan has done in the last week.

Tuesday: Big day for Hannan, this, for it saw the publication of the first issue of The Conservative, “a quarterly journal... sponsored by the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe”, of which he’s the editor-in-chief. The first edition contains essays by significant conservative figures including Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute; Matt Ridley, the science writer who did such a good job as chair of Northern Rock; and the philosopher Roger Scruton.

But obviously The Conservative wouldn’t be conservative without a contribution from its editor-in-chief himself, and Daniel gave us an essay under the heading, “Brexit: Where Next?”, which contains this marvellous paragraph:

Shall I tell you what that numbness was? It was the mildly vertiginous sense of being back in control again. It was the shock of a convalescent who, after weeks of being bed-ridden, throws open the door and strides into a sunlit garden. The shock of a paroled prisoner, accustomed to being told when to rise, eat and exercise, who suddenly has to make his own decisions.

If all this sounds a bit familiar – like something, regular readers may recall, I’ve actually mocked before – it’s because it’s an edited version of the opening chapter of Hannan’s recent book, “What Next?” (What, not where, you note). Ah well, he’s a busy man I guess.

Thursday: The next couple of days were relatively quiet day for our Daniel, but on Thursday he did find time to send this magnificently dimwitted tweet:

Which appears to work on the assumption that paying to be part of a single market, with all the dozens of pooled regulatory bodies it involves, is exactly the same as paying a massive bill to not be part of those things and to not access the single market, and then to pay a whole load more to set up dozens of new UK regulatory bodies ourselves. But in Hannan’s head, once again, it’s the Remainers who are the mendacious ones.

Talking of mendacity. . .

Friday: Today, Daniel really buggered things up by tweeting this:

Those figures, as it turned out, were not all charitable contributions: in fact, they include private healthcare costs. The reason the US comes out so high is because its healthcare is so bloody expensive.

Dozens of people pointed this out, yet no correction was forthcoming, and the tweet remains there for all to see.

@DanielJHannan Those compassionate caring Americans, spending a large proportion of income than the ROW on their own health to avoid dying

— Hackbencher (@hackbencher) 3 February 2017

Still, it did get 1.5k retweets, though, and I suppose most people on Twitter have said stupid things for #numbers are some time or another, so maybe we shouldn’t be too harsh.

Sunday: Yesterday, Daniel appeared on the BBC’s live debate programme The Big Questions (from Southampton!) with Nicky Campbell. Here’s an extract:

Nicky: When we hear stories like this, when we hear about the warehousing and the rat-infested conditions, where is our compassion?

Daniel: Well it depends whether our objective is to flaunt or compassion or to get as much done on a necessarily limited budget.

The show also contains some marvellous facial expressions from Daniel. Here he is explaining why trans employment rights are an issue for employers, not government:

“Why is this a problem for anybody else? It’s a very, very good question.”

And here he is talking about improvements in child poverty:

“Still this mandatory pessimism from everybody! If you actually looked at how we were living 20 years ago... there has been a solid improvement and the biggest improvement has come in the poorest countries.”

There’s a common thread to Hannan’s answers. In a roomful of people shouting at each other (seriously, that’s the whole point of the format), he is determined to respond rationally, intellectually, and never to let emotion infect his answers. It’s like trying to have a political discussion with Mr Spock. God help us when Pon Farr rolls around again.

Monday: Today, Daniel published his latest column for the International Business Times, on the economic protectionism of Marine Le Pen. Here’s how he tweeted it:

And here’s what the picture editor at the IBT thinks of that argument:

All in all, it’s been another busy week in the life of the brain of Brexit. Can’t wait to see what he gets up to next!

Please, won’t somebody let me stop this. Please. I want my life back. Please. Please.

Jonn Elledge is assistant editor of the New Statesman, in charge of day to day running of the website and its sister site, CityMetric. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.