The answer is yes, effectively. The qualifier is necessary because, though most Remainers have few tools in their intellectual box, some have plenty. It’s just that those tools stay in the box whenever the subject of the EU comes up.
Hence neither group relies on reason when arguing the issue of the EU in general or Brexit in particular.
I can testify to this, having been drawn into many an argument along those lines both in England and in France, against both casual acquaintances and close friends (this second group of Remainers are exclusively French).
Some of my opponents have been genuinely stupid and ignorant, yet some of the French in particular are brilliant and erudite. Yet even those who possess rational minds refuse to apply them to the issue at hand.
This means that EU champions approach this problem exclusively from an ideological angle, or else from a purely emotional one. Neither is indicative of any systematic rational process.
That’s why arguing with Remainers is both easy and impossible. It’s impossible because one can’t argue against ideologies inspired by visceral emotions without any rational input. It’s easy because there are plenty of rational arguments against the EU and none for it.
Applying a crude version of the Socratic Q&A method blows every pro-EU argument out of the water. It’s simplicity itself.
Q. Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, said almost 400 years ago: “If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.” Do you agree that unnecessary change is to be avoided? A. Yes.
Q. Thus you must think that being (or staying) in the EU is necessary? A. Yes.
Q. Let’s explore this. The British constitution is founded on the sovereignty of Parliament, isn’t it? A. Yes.
Q. Therefore transferring all or much of this sovereignty to a foreign body constitutes a fundamental change, doesn’t it? A. Yes.
Q. And yet you maintain that this change is necessary? A. Yes.
Q. (and this is always the clincher). In that case you must believe that the EU is the best or even only answer to some vital questions involving our nation’s wellbeing. Do you mind telling me what they are?
That’s where Remainers and other EU fans drop into the bottomless hole they’ve dug for themselves. For I’ve never heard a single answer to this question – not even from my brilliant and erudite French friends – that holds water better than your average sieve.
When they bother to answer it at all (usually they don’t), they cite reasons that are demonstrably false either logically or factually or both.
“We need to trade with Europe.” Why is it necessary to destroy national sovereignty for this reason? After all, Britain became the greatest trading commonwealth in history without compromising her independence.
“The EU is all about free trade.” That’s simply a lie. First, the EU is free of tariffs only among its members. Vis-à-vis the rest of the world it’s a protectionist bloc, which is rather the opposite of free trade.
And, as the pronouncements of the founding fathers of European federalism, such as Jean Monnet, show, their aim from the 1940s onwards wasn’t economic but political: the creation of a single European state.
“We need to travel to Europe.” So how did we manage to do so for centuries before 1992?
“The EU has maintained peace after the Second World War.” Nonsense. It has arguably maintained peace between France and Germany, the two countries that created the EU for their own benefit.
In any case, the EU only came into existence at Maastricht. So did it maintain peace between 1945 and 1992 retroactively? And in the face of Soviet aggression, the security of Europe was upheld by Nato’s nuclear shield – c’est tout, or das ist alles if you’d rather.
Actually, in those situations where the EU could have kept or restored peace, such as during the Yugoslavian bloodbath, it pathetically failed to do so.
And so forth, in the same vein. No argument in favour of the EU exists that can’t be destroyed in a few seconds flat by an averagely intelligent teenager, even a Scottish lad who may initially think that EU is the way he greets his friends.
Such thoughts have frequently appeared in these pages, so why repeat myself? Two factors have acted as triggers.
One was the joint press conference delivered by three political has-beens Nick Clegg, Nicky Morgan and David Miliband on why we need ‘soft Brexit’, meaning, for those of you who aren’t fluent in stupid and pernicious, no Brexit at all.
I was especially surprised to see that Dave Miliband was taken off the mothballs for that occasion. That made me see in a new light the incident involving Dave, then Foreign Secretary, and the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.
Dave meekly mentioned the abuse of human rights in Russia, to which the former KGB officer replied, in the style unique to Russian diplomacy, “Who are you to f***ing lecture me?” Much as I detest Lavrov, the same words crossed my mind too the other day.
The second trigger was provided by that awful woman with learning difficulties, and my frequent target Rachael Sylvester of The Times. Every paragraph in her article proves that her failing is actually the absence of a mind, rather than the refusal to use it.
One sentence in particular caught my eye: “The problem is that Brexit is a revolutionary policy being implemented by a reactionary prime minister, and the people who lit the touch paper on this insurgency are disruptors without a plan.”
‘Revolutionary’? ‘Insurgency’? God help us all, the girl must be out of her mind, provided – and this is a generous proviso – she has one.
If anything, Brexit is a counterrevolution, reversing the deadly effects of the Maastricht revolution that subverted British sovereignty and constitution. And vapid, vacuous, vacillating Mrs May ‘a reactionary prime minister’? Let’s have a drink, Rachael, I’ll show you what reactionary means.
As to a plan, it’s as simple as truth itself: restoring British sovereignty. Nothing more and, emphatically, nothing less.
Demands for a detailed, itemised plan for the aftermath of Brexit are just a knavish Remainer trick, typologically similar to the one used in the US many years ago by opponents of a federal judge who banned pornography.
“Define pornography!” demanded pornographers. “I can’t define it, but when I see it I know it,” replied the judge.
Of course the consequences of Brexit aren’t predictable or plannable in every minute detail. Brexit is an aim in itself, it’s not a guaranteed way of increasing our GDP, nor a guaranteed way of reducing it.
The Remainers’ plan, on the other hand, is clear-cut: joining a single European state by a series of camouflaged, incremental steps, thereby destroying Britain’s sovereignty altogether.
Those who don’t understand this are fools; those who support it despite understanding it are knaves. And some, including by the sound of her Miss Sylvester, are both.