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It’s finally arrived. 28 years of my political life comes to a close tonight. 28 years! You get less than that for murder! It was a journey that began in February, 1992. At that time I was still living and working in London, had a full head of hair, and was being entertained by programmes such as Rik and Ade in ‘Bottom’. Until then, the issue of Europe had scarcely entered my mind. The European Community was something that was accepted as a part of British political life. Nobody I knew was animated about it. Indeed, nobody I knew ever mentioned it.
The signing of the Maastricht Treaty changed all that. It put the European Community on a constitutional footing, changed its name to the European Union, and gave it ambitions for further integration which, to my mind (and I haven’t been proved wrong), wanted to diminish the sense of individual nationhood inherent in its members. From that moment on I wanted the UK out. It was also 1992 that first saw the divisions in the Conservative Party: divisions that were to escalate and culminate in a devastating defeat five years later. The Conservatives went from hubris to humiliation. Now, they’re are back – deservedly – at the hubris stage again.
Tonight, at 11pm, our membership of the European Union comes to a close. After 47 years + January, 565 months, 17,197 days, 24,763,620 minutes or 1,485,817,200 seconds after we first joined, we’ll be out. What Boris and his government have achieved in just over six months has been remarkable. He has managed to overcome the blockages of a venal and lying opposition, a bent Speaker, a flagrantly partisan media class, a London bubble so insular it had the arrogance to claim its values were those of the entire country, and a psychotically Remain minority – small but powerful – who delighted in shouting in Parliament Square and holding marches with grossly-exaggerated numbers of participants. They’ve all been vanquished. Gina Miller? Since when have you seen her supercilious mug on your screens since December?
An important lesson to remember here is that Boris hasn’t pulled off this remarkable feat on his own. He’s done it with the support and cooperation of millions of Conservative voters, who were sick and tired of being defamed as ‘Little Englanders’ or ‘xenophobes’. People that were as fed up listening to the pampered ingrates of Scottish separatism as they were being lectured at by the metropolitani. We’re told we mustn’t ‘rub the noses of Remainers’ tonight. Why not? They had no compunction about doing that to us for three-and-a-half years! So party away and enjoy yourselves…you deserve it. I will.
However, tomorrow the time for partying will be over. We’ve won, we’ve celebrated and now it’s time to heal. We must move forward as ONE country; we must show determination to face down those who want to see the UK dismembered by a scalpel blade of celtic separatist grievance; the losers must be gracious in defeat; the winners must (after today) be humble in victory. For once the transition ends, politicos at Westminster will no longer be able to blame Brussels for any ills the UK may face. The buck will stop with them. And, no matter how supportive I’ve been of Boris thus far, I will speak out vigorously on things I’m passionate about if I feel this government is acting wrongly – Northern Ireland’s place in the Union being pretty much at the top of that list.
A European project dedicated to ‘ever closer union’ was never one that was going to sit comfortably with the majority of British people – especially one determined to override national rejection of its plans by way of referendums. It pulled off that trick with Denmark, The Netherlands, Ireland and France. But it didn’t pull it off with us. For that reason alone, we should be partying tonight.
Happy Brexit Day!