BREX FACTOR: Daniel Kawczynski and Robbie Williams are Brexiteers of the Week
PUBLISHED: 14:00 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:51 08 February 2019
2018 Mike Marsland
In this week's Brex Factor, STEVE ANGLESEY takes on the fact-less Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski and names his Brexiteers of the week.
If Brexit’s beginning was forged on the playing fields of Eton then its noisy endgame is definitely a product of whatever high school Sam Cooke attended.
Don’t know much about history? Don’t know much about geography? Then you too qualify to be a pro-Leave commentator. Now go out and share your lack of wisdom with the world.
Graduates of the Sam Cooke Academy include UKIP leader Gerard Batten, who recently offered this killer evidence that the backstop issue is a red herring: “Here’s a fact about the Irish border. There are approx 100 lorries per day crossing the ROI & NI border.” The correct figure is around 5,500 trucks and 6,700 vans per day, so Gerard was only slightly out.
Or former Department for Work and Pensions minister Esther McVey, who declared on Nigel Farage’s radio show that Nissan’s decision to move production of their new X-Trail out of Sunderland “isn’t about Brexit”. A matter of minutes later the company’s European chief Gianluca de Ficchy confirmed that yes, it was partly about Brexit. “Uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future,” he said.
However, no-one to date has embraced Cooke’s opening line in Wonderful World more than Daniel Kawczynski, the Shrewsbury and Atcham MP who tops up his annual £76,000 salary with £72,000 earned as a consultant for mining group Electrum, owned by American billionaire Tom Kaplan.
At 6ft 8in, Kawczynski must be used to tall tales, which perhaps explains his Twitter rant about the American payments which rebuilt Europe after the Second World War: “Britain helped to liberate half of Europe. She mortgaged herself up to eyeballs in process. No Marshall Plan for us only for Germany. We gave up war reparations in 1990. We put £370 billion into EU since we joined. Watch the way ungrateful EU treats us now. We will remember.”
With its references to the Second World War, its seething and irrational hatred of the EU, its empty threats, and its easily disprovable ‘facts’ – Britain actually received 26% of Marshall Plan payments, more than any other country – here was a typical Brexiteer tweet. But what made Kawczynski’s outburst remarkable was what happened next.
As historians, fellow MPs and members of the public lined up to correct him, rather than do what Batten did and hastily delete an obviously erroneous tweet, Marshall Plan Dan continued digging. He told Twitter critics they “need to get out more” and sniped at Gavin Esler on the grounds that the broadcaster and TNE contributor had misspelled his surname, telling him: “Kawczynksi that’s how you spelt it my name is Kawczynski.”
The MP phoned into TalkRadio’s Alexis Conran Show but refused to back down, hanging up less than three minutes later after complaining “I thought I had been invited to talk to you about Article 50.”
Later Kawczynski told local paper the Shropshire Star: “There are many people in this country who want to whitewash the sacrifice that Britain has made over generations for Europe. They say it is not appropriate to look at a country’s history to understand her credentials.”
A bold move for Daniel to accuse others of not checking their history, you might have thought. But as David St. Hubbins so rightly told us in This Is Spinal Tap, “it’s such a fine line between stupid and clever”.
Brexiteers continue to push provably false ideas out through their safe spaces, seemingly without caring whether they are found out or how. The shout is louder than the echo, and what does it really matter to them if a bunch of snowflakes cry foul as long as the true believers continue to like on Twitter or nod along with Farage on LBC?
So former CBI director-general Digby Jones can bluster, as he did this week, that his 2016 claim “not a single job will be lost because of Brexit” is still valid despite pesky evidence to the contrary. Jones told Radio Five Live’s Emma Barnett Show that job losses at Jaguar Land Rover and elsewhere were “nothing to do with Brexit, it’s everything to do with the uncertainty caused by the debate about Brexit”.
No doubt if Diggers had been around on the Nostromo he would have explained that the deaths of Ellen Ripley’s crew were nothing to do with the alien and everything to do with the uncertainty caused by the debate about the alien…
There’s a lesson here. If you’re caught out on television or radio you can merely ramble on about something else, walk out or hang up. Never mind the Malthouse Compromise, what about the Kawczynski Defence? After all, nobody now believes we send £350 million a week to the EU, or that we will spend that money on the NHS instead, or that CEOs have been banging on Angela Merkel’s door since day one demanding access to the British market, or that a trade deal with the EU will be the easiest in human history or that there will be no downside to Brexit.
But the last time I looked, we are still leaving the EU.
• Last week’s Brexiteers of the Week included Cara Sandys, a jewellery maker from Southampton who revealed she had voted Leave because “When you walked into the city centre you constantly heard Eastern European accents. You’d see beer cans with Eastern European writing by park benches”.
This is not Cara’s first appearance in the press. Earlier this month she stunned readers of Southampton’s Daily Echo by revealing that she was still watching the black-and-white JVC Videosphere TV she won in a WHSmith competition back in 1972.
Ms Sandys explained: “I see no reason to switch to colour if my TV still works, but a major incentive is the reduced licence fee.” Could there be a better Brexit metaphor than this?
BREXITEERS OF THE WEEK
4. JAMES DELINGPOLE
The alt-right blogger went Reverse Kawczynski after a humiliating appearance on BBC’s This Week in which he declared America would give us “a fantastic deal” after a no-deal Brexit. Asked why the USA would need to give us any deal if they had tariff-free access under WTO rules, Delingpole replied: “Erm, I don’t know the answer to that.”
He later wrote: “I died horribly in front of nearly one million viewers… It was so unpleasant I never want to experience it again… I hadn’t boned up enough beforehand.”
Fully recovered, a few sentences later he was telling Breitbart readers not to fear “as China, the US, India seem to survive by being outside the EU”. Yes, but they’re not exactly next to the EU like us, are they?
3. CHARLES MOORE
The former Telegraph editor declared himself ready to smuggle groceries in from Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit, telling Spectator readers: “In our part of the south coast we… are ready to set out in our little ships to Dunkirk or wherever and bring back luscious black-market lettuces and French beans, oranges and lemons.”
Moore, 62, added a lesson for shopkeepers worried about a shortage of supplies: “People used to know how to store things to mitigate the problem: apples would be carefully laid out on straw-strewn shelves.”
Perhaps if we all get hungry we can just eat the straw!
2. ARRON BANKS
The good news continues to pile up for Brexit backer Bankski, who is already facing a National Crime Agency investigation into allegations of multiple criminal offences committed during the referendum.
Bankski’s two firms Leave.EU and insurance company Eldon have now been fined a total of £120,000 for data protection violations and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is beginning a full audit of both companies.
Banks took time out from his legal troubles to attend a DUP fundraising dinner in Ballymena, where guest speakers included Ian Paisley and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Some would consider this punishment enough.
1. ROBBIE WILLIAMS
The former Take That singer lived up to the titles of his hit singles No Regrets and Somethin’ Stupid by attacking a People’s Vote.
The 44-year-old told an Instagram live Q&A: “We had a vote and they said we wanted to leave, so if there is another vote and they go ‘well actually, let’s have another go’ – that’s not democracy is it?” Williams added: “I mean, I’m not saying which way I would have voted, if I voted… I know very little about lots of things... I know very little about most things and it is so confusing.”
So, very little chance of a chorus of “I’m loving Angela Merkel instead”?
• Hear more from Steve Anglesey weekly on The New European podcast - available every Friday morning...