RICHARD KAY: NOW will they stop wailing? They were the insufferable refuseniks horrified by a democratic referendum (because they lost) who battled to thwart it. Now, before we sail into a brave new tomorrow, a fond salute to Brexit’s bitter losers
Tonight Britain will leave the European Union for good, as the demands of the 2016 referendum are finally met.
Ever since that historic result, there have been four and a half years of relentlessly bitter rancour between opposing sides, and in the process reputations were made and lost.
So, more than 1,600 days after the vote, who are the real winners and, significantly, biggest losers of the Brexit deal?
TONY BLAIR, PETER MANDELSON & ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: Labour’s three unwise men and Remainer Ultras who thought they could take support for their beloved Europe for granted without realising how much they were hated by both Tory and Labour voters.
Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, holding a sign saying I Voted Remain
KATYA ADLER: The Beeb’s multi-lingual Europe Editor whose doom-laden reports for the BBC, that’s the Brussels Broadcasting Corporation, will not be missed.
EMMANUEL MACRON: France’s pint-sized president never missed an opportunity to mock Britain’s post-Brexit hopes.
SIR KEIR STARMER: Flip-flopping and endless U-turns have seen the Labour leader jeered for having more positions on Brexit than the Kama Sutra.
THERESA MAY: Forever haunted by her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ soundbite, the former PM was graceful enough to vote for her successor’s deal — but not without lambasting it as inferior to her (rejected) one.
Members of Parliament gather near the Commons Speaker John Bercow, right
DAVID CAMERON: Might have gone down in history for agreeing to the EU referendum but then petulantly walked away when his ‘side’ lost and is now reduced to little more than a footnote.
JAMES O’BRIEN: The shrill LBC presenter with a serious case of Brexit derangement syndrome who did as much as anyone to paint EU Leavers as ignorant and thick.
NICOLA STURGEON: Scotland’s First Minister would have shrieked betrayal whatever happened. But her case for independence gets harder: why demand an end to rule from London only to replace it by subservience to Brussels?
IAN BLACKFORD: The SNP’s gloomster-in-chief who single-handedly lives up to PG Wodehouse’s biting aphorism that ‘it is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine’.
Steve Coogan addresses anti-Brexit campaigners in Parliament Square, London, March 2019
TWITTER: Its Remainiac user base has finally come to terms with the fact that their social media feed is not the same thing as the real world.
RESTAURATEURS of Strasbourg & Brussels: They are mourning the loss of some of the hungriest — and thirstiest — Eurocrats on their gravy train.
FINANCIAL TIMES, THE ECONOMIST & GUARDIAN: House publications of the metropolitan chattering classes all predicted doom and destruction if we voted Brexit and all showed how far removed and insulated they are from everyday life.
HUGH GRANT, STEVE COOGAN, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: The luvvies came out for Remain but couldn’t win over a population sick to death of being told how to vote by rich actors who think they’re as clever as the lines they recite.
JOHN HANNAH: The Four Weddings And A Funeral actor deserves special mention for his insults to ‘peasants and pensioners’ and other ‘idiots and racists’ who backed Brexit. Adding for good measure: ‘I hope you choke on your crap cheaps**t meat and extortionate U.S. drugs.’
Chuka Umunna and Hugh Grant (centre) with campaign volunteers before canvassing to encourage people to vote for Liberal Democrat Umunna as the Remain candidate. London December 2019
LADY HALE: Spider brooch-wearing Supreme Court judge who ruled the Government acted unlawfully by proroguing Parliament last year only to pave the way for Boris’s thumping election victory in December 2019.
GINA MILLER: Anti-Brexit activist who twice took the Government to court (see above) and whose tactical voting websites during last year’s election failed to persuade supporters to defeat the Tories and stop Brexit.
Gina Miller arrives at High Court for the decision on Brexit legal battle, March 2016
DOMINIC GRIEVE & ANNA SOUBRY: Tory turncoats who thought they were entitled to overturn the democratic wish of the British people.
JOHN BERCOW: Unlamented ex-Speaker, who used his high office to try to derail Brexit, and who remains the first Speaker in living memory not to receive a peerage.
JOHN MAJOR & LORD HESELTINE: EU has-beens from whom a prolonged period of silence is overdue. Analogue figures in a digital age.
LORD ADONIS: Diehard Remainer who, despite losing the argument, never concedes. Now says the best policy for the UK is to ‘rejoin’ the EU. Oh, please!
LORD KERSLAKE: The former head of the Civil Service, a cross-bench peer who took up an advisory role to former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, stoked the anti-Brexit rhetoric with claims that officials were planning for ‘riots in the street’ in the event of no deal. It earned him a rebuke for exaggeration from Radio 4’s John Humphrys.
JO SWINSON: Who she? The former Lib Dem leader who promised her party would overturn Brexit only for her to be turned out of Parliament by contemptuous voters.
SIR ED DAVEY: Who he? Current Lib Dem leader (keep up) who followed narrow political point-scoring by voting against the EU trade bill yesterday.
BOB GELDOF: The self-obsessed former pop star who took to the Thames with metropolitan chums in a pleasure boat to sneer and give an expletive-loaded salute to fishermen at a Brexit protest outside Parliament. A low moment in a very dirty war.
A boat carrying supporters for the Remain in the EU campaign including Singer, Bob Geldof (centre), on the River Thames, London, June 2016
DAME HILARY MANTEL: Historical novelist who labelled Brexit a ‘unique national folly’ and described Britain’s retreat into insularity as ‘really ugly’.
PHILIP PULLMAN: The His Dark Materials author plumbed absurd depths with his claim that the Government ‘should be arraigned on conspiracy to murder charges’ if it found Brexit negotiations had hindered the procurement of PPE to fight the coronavirus.
DELIA SMITH: The cookery writer and Norwich FC owner who admitted that she had never accepted the referendum result and helped fund a fleet of coaches to transport ‘people’s vote’ protesters to London.
SIR RICHARD BRANSON: From claims that a hard Brexit would be more damaging than World War II to dire warnings about the collapse of the Pound, the billionaire businessman kept up a never-ending stream of Project Fear scare stories about Britain’s post EU future.
MICHEL BARNIER: For such an outwardly smooth and suave figure, Barnier was increasingly rattled as the talks dragged on. Convinced by the purity of the EU position, he was eventually sidelined by Ursula von der Leyen, the pragmatic president of the European Commission.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives to vote in the EU referendum, at Broomhouse Community Hall in Glasgow, Scotland on June 23, 2016
DONALD TUSK: Failed to change his tune even after standing down as European Council president, declaring that Brexit was ‘one of the most spectacular mistakes’ in the history of the EU.
JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER: Former EU Commissioner and arch-federalist, who had to deny claims he had a drink problem, may have unwittingly come up with the best description on the interminable Brexit wrangling: ‘A waste of time and energy.’
GUY VERHOFSTADT: The one-time chairman of the Brexit steering group in the European Parliament could not resist sticking his three-penn’orth into the agreement by calling the end of Britain’s involvement in the EU’s Erasmus scheme for students ‘tragic and spiteful’.
…and the ones who will still be whooping
LORD BOTHAM: The England cricketing legend urged Britain to ‘stand proud’ by voting to leave, accusing the EU of ‘greed and corruption’. The bulldog-spirited sportsman was raised to the peerage by a grateful Boris Johnson.
SIR GEOFFREY BOYCOTT: Botham’s fellow cricketer’s defence of Brexit was hailed by TV presenter Piers Morgan as one of the ‘greatest mission’ statements since the days of Churchill.
SIR MICHAEL CAINE: The veteran Hollywood star was unequivocal: ‘You cannot be dictated to by thousands of faceless civil servants [in Brussels].’
NIGEL FARAGE: There would have been no Brexit without him. A peerage or knighthood surely beckons.
LORD (Daniel) HANNAN: The highly intelligent former MEP who has been banging on about the evils of Europe for longer even than Farage and campaigned for voters to ‘please sack me’ by voting Leave.
LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS: No more waving of EU flags instead of the Union Flag.
NUMBER PLATE MAKERS: At last we can see the back of the deeply infuriating Euro flag on registration plates. And motorists can proudly apply a GB sticker when driving in the EU.
LORD FROST: When the dust has settled much of the success of our trade deal will be thanks to UK’s chief EU negotiator David Frost. Unlike his predecessor Olly Robbins, an ardent Europhile, Frosty, a career diplomat, was a hardline Eurosceptic.
BORIS JOHNSON: He promised to get Brexit done and now he has. His personal intervention drove the deal over the line and now he can focus on other matters: defeating Covid, saving the union with Scotland and marrying fiancee Carrie.
ALICE GRANT: Tartan mini-skirt-wearing Alice, and her sister Beatrice, added glamour and youth to the Brexit cause. The privately-educated granddaughter of a former Bank of Scotland governor, declares: ‘Brexit was never about big money markets or economics. It was about self-determination, love for our nation and real change for our forgotten communities.’
LIZ HURLEY: In 2016 hers were the only genuine vital statistics in the referendum campaign. Her endorsement for Brexit may not have clinched the result, but that picture of her wearing nothing but stilettos and a Union Flag cushion put Remain’s gloomy luvvies with their hatred of a self-sufficient Britain in the shade.
PASSPORT MAKERS: In production (in Poland) since March, demand for the new blue British passport will soar.
DEMOCRACY: The people spoke at the 2016 referendum and the 2019 election — and today they’ve finally got what they voted for.
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