With Britain’s EU membership set to end, STEVE ANGLESEY proves January 31 is a day cursed by unfortunate events.
So here we are on the brink of horrible history. January 31 marks the end of our EU membership after 47 years, and also the day Brexiteers stop blaming Europe for all Britain’s problems and begin to face the reality of their own false promises. Just kidding; when things go wrong from now on they’re going to blame it on judges and the BBC instead!
To celebrate this historic occasion, here’s a selection of January 31 events down the years which – through a mixture of unfounded optimism, bad planning, outrageous hype, misplaced national pride and a belief that things wouldn’t be as bad as experts said – all had the unmistakable whiff of Brexit about them…
January 31, 1606
After failing to deliver his Dominic Cummings-style shake-up of government, Guy Fawkes cheats the executioner by leaping from the scaffold to his death. Fawkes breaks his neck but avoids being drawn and quartered while still alive. This is regarded as the first incidence of a ‘soft Brexit’.
January 31, 1916
Having flown over Manchester, the Irish Sea and Birkenhead completely unimpeded, German kapitänleutnant Max Dietrich’s L21 zeppelin completes a daring bombing raid on Liverpool. The L19 of kapitänleutnant Odo Loewe follows suit before crashing in the North Sea, where Loewe elects to let himself and his crew drown rather than accept help from a nearby British fishing vessel, lest they be overpowered by its crew. It is only when the L21 lands safely at home that Dietrich discovers that he has mistaken Derby for Manchester, unpopulated North Shropshire for the blackness of the Irish Sea and Tipton for Birkenhead, meaning that rather than taking out key munitions sites in the busy port of Liverpool, he has demolished a factory in the East Midlands market town of Wednesbury.
January 31, 1933
With worrying news coming out of Berlin, the New York Times acts quickly to reassure readers. “Hitler made chancellor of Germany but coalition cabinet limits power; centrists hold balance” runs a story concluding: “The composition of the cabinet leaves Herr Hitler no scope for gratification of any dictatorial ambition.”
January 31, 1959
Actor Anthony LaPaglia is born in Adelaide. In 2000, he will remind us of how much the people of the Commonwealth love Britain when he joins the cast of sitcom Frasier and plays Daphne Moon’s Mancunian brother Simon with a broad Cockney accent. The Americans twist the knife by giving him the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
January 31, 1977
American airline giants Pan Am and TWA cancel orders for a combined 10 Concordes, dealing a fatal blow to the Anglo-French jet. The plane, which needs three times as much fuel as a Boeing 747 and cannot be used for supersonic flight over land because its sonic boom, is also rejected by companies from the USA, Germany, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Iran and Lebanon. Programme costs rise from £70 million to £1.3 billion for a plane which ends service with transatlantic tickets priced 30 times the lowest economy fare on other airlines.
January 31, 2007
In Massachusetts, Boston’s anti-terrorism police and emergency services are mobilised and more than a dozen locations including highways and bridges are shut down after reports of multiple suspicious devices. One is destroyed by the bomb squad before the suspected IEDs are revealed to be battery-powered LED adverts for the cartoon TV series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, placed during a guerilla marketing campaign.
January 31, 2011
Liverpool FC replace the stylish Spaniard striker Fernando Torres (62 goals in 105 games) with the physical Englishman Andy Carroll, for whom they pay £36 million, almost double their original offer. Injured for the first two months of his Anfield career, Carroll goes on to score only six times in 44 appearances before being sold to West Ham for a £21m loss.
January 31, 1962
In America, the first annual National Backwards Day in the USA is held (yes, it’s not only here where January 31 is synonymous with going backwards). Created as a fun literacy event for schoolkids, adult Americans quickly take up the baton and now mark January 31 by dressing back-to-front, talking like Yoda, walking backwards to work and, in all likelihood, celebrating with a traditional feast of Nekcihc Detanirolhc.
January 31, 2016
Terry Wogan, a man who laughed at the absurdities of one great European institution while remaining keenly aware of how much the country would have lost by withdrawing from it, dies aged 77. No-one knows what Old Tel would have made of the last three years and the trade negotiations ahead, but his remarks at the start of Eurovision 2007 in Finland might provide a clue. He said: “Who knows what hellish future lies ahead? Actually, I do. I’ve seen the rehearsals.”
Who’s catching Steve’s eye this week in the world of Brexit?
– JACOB REES-MOGG
Has the Victorian Undertaker been supping too deeply from his flagon of laudanum? What else could explain his breathless ode to Brexit, published in the Mail on Sunday together with a glossary so proles could understand his words of wisdom too?
Quoth Moggy, pictured: “The British people have set the scene for the biggest restoration of vitality and viridity to our land in generations… It will be a Government acutely attuned to the will of the people. For that is the sine qua non of our departure… Our auriferous Prime Minister is bringing in a new era of revitalisation to our nation… The trail we have blazed in the past will continue to fulgurate into the future.”
You wouldn’t find a columnist using words no-one understands in The New European. Not on the first 47 pages, anyway…
– LOUIS DE BERNIERES
In an article titled “Why I believe in Brexit”, the best-selling author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin told Financial Times readers: “There is an area of Ipswich.. where there seems to be nobody but eastern Europeans, hanging about, smoking in little knots. To many locals it looks threatening, even if it isn’t.” A good enough reason to turn our backs on the world’s most successful trade bloc!
Louis also wrote: “We are an important trading partner; if Ireland were being strictly rational it would also leave the EU and opt for an Anglo-Irish economic zone.” Oh those irrational Irish, who can’t understand that they need to protect the whopping 13% of their exports which currently go to the UK at the expense of the measly 33% which go to the rest of the EU!
– ANDREW ROSINDELL
The Romford MP says “huge numbers will come” to his Brexit night party, at which he will be “celebrating in style” with a “great British buffet with food from around the UK and English sparkling wine – nothing French or German”.
Rosindell’s last great act of patriotism came in November 2016 when he demanded that BBC One should play God Save the Queen at the end of each night’s broadcast, as used to happen at closedown until 1997. A BBC spokesman said then: “We’re aware of Mr Rosindell’s interest in this issue as he has made the same request in seven previous Early Day Motions. We no longer play the national anthem on a daily basis on BBC One because it doesn’t close down in the evening.”
– DOMINIC FRISBY
The pro-Brexit financial analyst-turned comedian launched an attempt to get his song 17 Million F**k Offs to No.1 in the charts for Brexit Day. It contains the hilarious lyrics: “It was the greatest democratic turnout in British history, I do not scoff/And when the time came to speak the British said/F**k off” and takes swipes at Remainers like Femi Oluwole (“Weirdo”), Anna Soubry (“not a Nazi”), Hilary Benn (“Hilary’s a girl’s name. What’s that all about?”) and even our own Lord Adonis (“who the f**k’s he anyway?”). As you might have guessed, it’s excruciatingly unfunny.
But as we come to our darkest hour since June 23, 2016, is anyone really surprised that it all ends with Remainers getting behind the uplifting, optimistic, timeless Ode To Joy while Leavers bitterly tell everyone they disagree with to f**k off? Which camp would you rather belong to?