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  1. Politics
13 March 2017

This week, Daniel Hannan wants to talk about how Brexit babies are made

Because life isn't all Hobbit tweets and constitutional conundrums.

By Jonn Elledge

When I started this column, back in the late 1890s or whenever it was, it was meant to be dedicated to the ancient and noble art of fisking: finding something Daniel Hannan had said that was provably wrong in some way and then, well, proving it wrong. With any normal politician, this might be difficult; with Daniel Hannan, the only real difficulty is in trying to keep up.

In recent weeks, though, I’ve become aware that this approach was ignoring a large swathe of the Hannan oeuvre: the things that aren’t wrong, exactly, but which just make him look really, really weird.

Take this suggestion that continental Eurosceptics could abandon their EU citizenship on principle:

…which seems symmetrical, until you remember that the offer the European Parliament’s chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt is talking about is intended to protect rights that British citizens currently have, and are about to lose (such as, for example, my right to up sticks and move to Spain, should I get the urge). He’s talking about an actual problem about to be faced by actual people out there in the world.

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I suppose it’s possible that there are Eurosceptics in places like Aarhus who hate Brussels enough that they’d voluntarily give up their right to live in two dozen other countries, even as their country stayed in the EU, but it doesn’t seem very likely to me. As ever, Hannan is such a constitutionally-obsessed oddball that he views European relations as a matter of abstract principle rather than actual, lived experience.

Then there was this Lord of the Rings quote…

…which Hannan likes so much he’s tweeted it before:

(Thanks, Politiwoops.)

It remains, however, a strange choice, since it implies that

a) the British are very short, and

b) our national refusal to engage in the affairs of the world outside our land is going to result in the whole place ending up as (let’s turn to our Cliff’s Notes) “a refuge for brigands and an ecological disaster”.

That actually sounds like an entirely plausible result of Brexit to me; I’m just surprised to see Hannan propagate it so enthusiastically. The obvious explanation, I fear, is that he’s never actually read the book, merely seen the films, which leave out the Scouring of the Shire entirely. He’s spent years marching Britain towards disaster because he wrongly thinks that the book has a happy ending.

But these oddities are as nothing when placed next to the single most bizarre, most vexing, most upsetting tweet even Daniel Hannan has so far managed to send. I warn you now that the rest of the article contains scenes that some viewers may find distressing.

Here we go:

There are many, varied reasons why, a whole week after seeing it, I’m still finding the existence of this tweet a little bit weird. To whit:

1. It turns out Daniel Hannan knows about sex. Now this shouldn’t be a surprise – he’s a married man with two children – but nonetheless, the idea that he knows of such things, let alone would draw attention to his knowledge, feels like some kind of category error. It’s as if you asked someone what they were doing this evening and they told you they were going to a lecture Joey Essex was giving on the Schleswig-Holstein question. It just doesn’t compute.

2. Also, Daniel Hannan talking about sex is just really creepy. No, Daniel Hannan. No.

3. Not only does Daniel Hannan know about sex, he would like us to know that on the evening of 23 June he did not have any sex, or possibly that he had quite bad sex.

4. Did I mention it was creepy? Because it’s creepy.

5. Now, I spent the hours between 10.30pm and 1am on the night of the referendum hiding in a stairwell and crying (true story), so it’s possible I’m just being bitter about someone who clearly had a far better time of it than I did. But is this normal? Do people really celebrate election results by deciding to start a family, doing the deed, waiting eight months, and then emailing the evidence to Daniel Hannan so that he can tell the world? Is this what Brexiteers do instead of announcements in the Times?

6. Who is Liz? Why does she think this is a good idea? Enquiring minds want to know.

7. Why is the flag she is holding not a standard union jack? Best I can tell it’s the British diplomatic flag used at British Embassies. Why was that lying around?

8. I’m assuming “Brexit Baby” is meant to be descriptive (as in “this is a-“). But I can’t help but read it in the same tone that Joey Tribiani uses to say “London, baby!” (I’m sure Hannan himself would be quick to point out that that storyline, too, involved an unhappy marriage, or at least, he would be if his knowledge of pop culture didn’t come to a crashing halt at least two chapters before the end of the Lord of the Rings.)

9. Why is there no joke about Ever Closer Union in this tweet? FFS, Hannan, you had one job.

10. Seriously, why on earth would a couple label their unborn child in this way, and then send Daniel Hannan a picture?

11. And why would he think it’s a good idea to tweet the good news out to 100,000 people?

Or, to put it more succinctly: