Issues

Brexit Architect: ‘Crybabies’ Protesting Referendum Outcome Won’t Block EU Departure

Predicts court will rule that Parliament need not authorize break with continent

Daniel Hannan / AP

Daniel Hannan, an architect of the campaign to divorce the United Kingdom from the European Union, rejected claims on Monday that the U.K. Supreme Court could block Brexit.

Hannan, a Conservative member of the European Parliament who represents South East England, called the pending court case and other efforts to stall Brexit negotiations nothing more than "bumps on the road" prompted by "crybabies" who "don't accept the verdict of the people as final."

"The question isn't whether Brexit will happen. That was determined in June. It isn't even when it's going to happen. It's going to happen in the beginning of 2019. The question is how do we make it a cordial process that brings benefits to all sides," Hannan said during an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. "We want the European Union to prosper. Wealthy neighbors make good customers—we don't want to leave in a way that's going to trigger another bout of the Euro crisis."

The British government, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, is appealing a ruling issued in October that declared it could not unilaterally invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty—the mechanism that would begin formal exit negotiations with the EU—without a parliamentary vote. The 11 justices who sit on Britain's Supreme Court began hearing arguments for the case Monday morning.

May has said the ruling would not derail her plans to begin Brexit negotiations by the end of March. Even if the court rules against the government and upholds its earlier judgment, lawmakers are unlikely to halt Britain's departure from the EU given the popular vote.

Hannan said while most of those who voted to remain in the EU have now accepted the referendum result, a small number of people, primarily students, have refused to come to terms with Brexit's victory.

"It's the slightly spoiled millennials … who have been taught from the moment they went to school that the correct way to deal with a difficult opinion is to try to silence it and that someone disagreeing with them is a form of violence, rather than something that just happens in life," he said. "They didn't sit down and do a cost-benefit analysis, it was entirely about ‘Am I a nice cosmopolitan, outward looking person or am I an evil, wicked bigot?'"

"Having built up in their minds the referendum purely as a Kulturkampf between decent internationalist people and nasty racists, can you imagine the shock they must have felt waking up on the 24th of June to think that 52 percent of their fellow countrymen were racists? That's why they're struggling to come to terms with it," he continued.

Britain's Supreme Court will continue hearings on Tuesday, with arguments expected to end Thursday. The justices will likely issue a verdict in January.

While Remainers predict that Britain's economy will be harmed from leaving the EU, Hannan said the British economy would benefit from the government's ability to negotiate trade deals independently from Brussels.

"We have the opportunity to open our markets across the board," he said. "And the best of it is instead of coming at a cost to our taxpayers, it will come as a huge benefit to our consumers. … That's the opportunity that we now have and it's not going to come again. We've got a couple of years where we can get this right."