The last place you would expect to find a Brexiteer a month before the referendum would be in Reims, the Champagne country’s capital, running along the Canal de l'Aisne à la Marne towards his final undergraduate exam on the European Union. Well you’ve found me.
I was running because I was late, having gone to wrong exam centre on the other side of the town. I am not much of a runner and at this point in the day, one of those cool European mornings was being melted away by an ever higher and hotter sun. Starting to perspire, I thought it wise to try to offset my lateness by thinking again through potential essay questions which might come up. Might I be asked to explain the detailed workings of the EU legislative process? Or perhaps discuss potential European solutions to the migrant crisis? Challenging questions but nothing I couldn’t handle.
I arrived at the correct building and lost a few more valuable seconds passing through the security checks now sadly commonplace all over France. Up the stairs and I pushed open the exam room door only fifteen minutes late. I promptly found my seat and the exam paper was slid in front of me. The sole prompt at the top of the paper read: ‘Explain why the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union.’ I instantly relaxed. Being British and interested in all things politics, I was well versed in all the ‘Remainian’ arguments and I knew I would get the grade. I also knew then and there that I was going to vote to leave and do so happily.
My professor, pushing me to bypass my own thoughts and reason, and into writing something I did not believe, is just one story amongst what I suspect are thousands of others of ‘Remainers’ being their own worst enemy and forcing others towards Brexit. Shouldn’t any student be suspicious when the professor gives you the answer and then tells you to work backwards? It really felt like an insult to my intelligence which struck me as I was still recovering from David Cameron’s short-lived attempt to try and sell to the country his botched ‘renegotiation’ of Britain’s relationship with the EU which actually served to remind everyone of just how adverse to reform the EU really is.
On a daily basis Remainians tried to win the argument through deceit or the demonisation of Brexiteers. George Osborne’s manufacturing of the £4000 per year worse-off figure was amongst the most infamous cases of the former. Perhaps the most emotive instance of the latter was the battle of the flotillas on the Thames. Fisherman whose trade has been crippled by EU fisheries policy came to make their case on the river outside Parliament only to be heckled by a mobilised cabal of the well-to-do on a pleasure boat, all led by Bob Geldof. It was as if the Remainians did not realise that, to the average observer, the sight of the rich and vocal shouting down the poor and underheard is unappealing to say the least and unlikely to evoke much sympathy for their position.
Ultimately, the EU is an institution that entrenches, through treaties, certain political positions at a supranational level which are therefore no longer within the remit of national parliaments. Whilst for Remainians this was ideal, as the pillars of their liberal worldview were never subject to democratic scrutiny, their arguments had become stale and outdated from the previous lack of a need to articulate and defend them.
In the end all they could marshal was fear and snobbery. When given the choice, people will choose hope, optimism and democracy as they did on 23rd June.
So let the fanatics ‘March for Europe’, their renewed anti-democratic arguments only seek to remind us how they gave us little other option than to vote to leave in the first place.