War: Daniel Hannan versus Christiane Amanpour over Brexit and immigration

Via Heat Street, the best part here is when, after spending five minutes trying and failing to pin Hannan down on immigration expectations post-Brexit, Amanpour suddenly shifts to accusing him of supporting hate crimes. (Which hate crimes, says Hannan? Um, graffiti, says Amanpour.) Under intense stress it’s common for people to revert to instinct, and her leftist instincts shine through: When things aren’t going your way, you pull that race card and you slap it down. As you’ll see, though, Hannan isn’t the typical stammering conservative that American media is used to. By the end she’s more flustered and upset than he is.

But I’ll grant her one point. Hannan may be right that Brexit was first and foremost about sovereignty and that reducing it to a proxy vote on immigration is simplistic, but it’s hard to believe that Leave voters will be sanguine if a newly sovereign Britain sees no reduction in immigration. The core issue isn’t the number of migrants Britain admits, argues Hannan, it’s who gets to set that number. Parliament should decide, not Brussels. Right, but … it’s partly about the number. The EU decided to fling open its doors to migrants and refugees from the Middle East; breaking free from that arrangement promises, however implicitly, that that door will close a bit. If the Tories aren’t serious about that, they’re risking a backlash like the one the GOP is experiencing right now. Republicans swept to power in 2010 and 2014 promising to roll back Obama’s agenda. They’ve done a better job at halting the advance of that agenda than righty populists will admit, but one reason you’ve got Trump as nominee this year is because many feel that the bold new era of Republican congressional leadership has been underwhelming. They promised change and things seem not to have changed much. British Conservatives will face the same pressure, and they’ll no longer have the EU available as a handy scapegoat if they can’t muster the nerve to exert their new sovereignty in conservative ways. Hannan’s a libertarian so he’s probably more comfortable with a higher level of immigration than the nationalists alongside him in the Leave camp are. The Tories will have to resolve that disagreement. Someone will be disappointed.

In lieu of an exit question, a choice quote from Hannan from another interview he gave over the past few days: “There were four opinion polls taken the week after Mr. Obama told us to vote Remain and all of them showed a sharp swing to Leave. And I have to now say, you know I don’t know whether he was a secret agent on our side all along…”

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