How the extreme Brexiteers have delivered the worst takes over the coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 21:07 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 21:07 18 March 2020

Nigel Farage, Gerard Batten and Daniel Hannan have made staggering remarks about the coronavirus. Photograph: PA/TNE.

Nigel Farage, Gerard Batten and Daniel Hannan have made staggering remarks about the coronavirus. Photograph: PA/TNE.

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STEVE ANGLESEY takes a look at the staggering responses to the coronavirus from some of the most outspoken voices in the Leave camp.

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The race to deliver the very worst take of the coronavirus crisis has attracted serious competition from Brexiteers of every stripe. Yet it may have been won by the granddaddy of them all.

We’ve had the Brexit deniers, like former UKIP leader Gerard Batten, who tweeted, “This is all panic-stricken bullshit! It’s the bloody flu – not the end of the human race. If I’m wrong (and still alive in a month’s time) I’ll take it all back.”

We’ve had the surrealists, led by Daniel ‘Brain of Brexit’ Hannan, who told Telegraph readers “If coronavirus has one silver lining it should be the return of the bow and curtsy”. He elaborated: “A handshake can be an awkward thing – a clumsy, clammy grapple. But a woman breathes something of herself into her curtsy.

“She can make the gesture demure or haughty, coy or brazen… She can swish her skirts alluringly or bob coldly. The same is true, mutatis mutandis, for men. A bow allows you to convey precisely the degree of respect or affection you consider appropriate.”


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We’ve had the anti-ageists, with former ‘Kipper MEP Godfrey ‘Bongo-Bongo Land’ Bloom asking, “Who decided on 70? Winston Churchill was 70 in 1940. I am 70, climbed Scafell Pike last year. At the summit was an ex-serviceman of 79.

“I see youngsters on street corners who couldn’t go two rounds with me in the ring even now.”

And we’ve had the conspiracists, like Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexiteer brother Piers, who wrote on Twitter in his trademark what-me-paranoid? capital letters: “THE CV PANDEMIC WAS SIMULATED OCT 2019 BY MEGA-RICH CONTROL FREAKS BILL GATES, GEORGE SOROS +CRONIES. NOW IT’S FOR REAL. THE AIM IS A WORLD POPULATION CULL (“PEOPLE cause #CO2 problem”) by THEIR mass VACCINATION PLAN CONTAINING POISON.”

How very true! Wake up sheeple!

But for the very worst Brexiteer take of all on coronavirus, look no further than the nicotine-stained man-frog Nigel Farage, who told the “Heroes of Brexit” event last week that the pandemic presented a jolly good chance to get a great trade deal with the EU.

Farage began his remarks, made during an Q&A with journalist Christopher ‘Chopper’ Hope, by noting, “It’s very important that the Brexit Party is there if, in the wake of a financial crisis that may come because of coronavirus, they try to suspend Brexit.” Reassuring, isn’t it, to know that in the event of total market meltdown, with the need for close co-operation without tariffs and borders ever more apparent, there will still be a toddler in the corner stamping his foot and demanding to have his Brexit?

He went on: “This awful crisis and the way it’s gripping parts of Italy makes a trade deal with the EU easier now than it’s ever been. The collapsing Italian economy needs a deal with the UK desperately. German equally.”

Hope then interjected, “So rather than delay as they might do, use it…” Farage agreed, “Use it, use it to get a deal.

“You know, the Austrians have closed their border with Italy. Italians cannot cross that border in South Tyrol unless they can prove they are coronavirus-free.

“Free movement has ended, globalisation has ended. I’m sorry that it took something as awful as coronavirus but it’s over, it’s done and we will witness over the next few years the breakup of the eurozone, the breakup of the European Union and for us now getting a trade deal is easy, even the risk of a no-deal Brexit…

“The arguments about the risk a no-deal Brexit would pose are as nothing to the downturn we are facing, so the government’s got a great chance now to get this done.”

In other words, it’s a pity everyone’s either locked inside, being made redundant or dying. But the silver lining – in fact, make that gold lining – is that this crisis will help fulfil the isolationist dreams I’ve harboured for years!

And let’s not worry about this pushing us even further down into the muck – we’re eyeballs deep already, so let’s continue sinking and enjoy the mudbath! As George Formby used to say, “Turned out nice again”!

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STEVE’S SELECTION OF THE WEEK

DOMINIC RAAB

The foreign secretary dismissed pleas to extend the transition period, insisting: “I don’t think delaying the Brexit negotiations would give anyone on either side of the Channel the certainty they need.”

Did he mean the certainty that keeping ministers and civil servants focused on trade deals will stop them helping to organise vital relief for both Leave and Remain voters in our paralysed nation? If so, bang on.

UK and EU negotiators are said to be privately conceding that a delay now feels inevitable, but Raab claimed “intensive diplomacy is needed to take the relationship to the next level” – as, no doubt, Brad Pitt said to Jennifer Aniston as he dumped her for Angelina Jolie.

ANDREW BRIDGEN

Leavers and Remainers united in sending hardcore Brexiteer health minister Nadine Dorries their best wishes when she was diagnosed with coronavirus last week. Alas the goodwill did not spread as far as Dorries’ fellow Tory MP Bridgen and his musician wife Novena, who claimed Nadine may have accidentally infected him in the Commons tea room and jeopardised his health further by not mentioning him to Public Health England staff who asked about people she’d had contact with before her diagnosis Bridgen said generously, “My wife is an opera singer; she really is a prima donna whereas Nadine only acts like a prima donna.” Sounds like something out of The Sopranos.

LIZ KERSHAW

The prime minister has come in for deserved criticism of late, but he still has the backing of BBC 6 Music’s most tiresome DJ. “I think he’s fiercely intelligent and has knuckled down really well,” said the woman whose catchphrase is “hiya”.

Kershaw, pictured, threatened to sue TNE last year for accurately reporting her remarks that Brexit-related job losses at a baby bottle factory in Suffolk were “great” as while “it is terrible that jobs are lost in East Anglia, however, doesn’t it show faith by a multinational in a global market that they can manufacture these bottles in Holland and still easily frictionless trade import them to the UK?”

FREDERICK FORSYTH

Remember when every day brought another crass comparison between the latest Brexit machinations and a British military battle? Day of the Jackal author Freddie brought them all flooding back with his latest Express column.

The 81-year-old wrote of the 2016 referendum: “That was just the first battle of Ypres. The Somme is still to come.

“In years to come those of us still here will look back on the half-decade 2016-2021 as comparable to the Armada, Waterloo and Dunkirk. Well, we won them and we will emerge from this one prosperous, sovereign and free of continental governance.”

Rule Britannia and all that… but did we really win at Dunkirk?

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Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

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