Daniel Hannan: The EU as King Lear

Daniel Hannan’s speech likening the EU to King Lear is a concise and damning attack on the EU that is unlikely to be put quite as eloquently by others within that institution, or by politicians in the UK. The Panopticon laments that such eloquence or displays of learning, as we see with Mr Hannan’s speech, are not only absent from politics in the UK, but that when they are exhibited, they are condemned as elitist. In 2 Henry VI, the leader of a peasants’ rebellion, Jack Cade, says of Lord Stafford ‘He can speak French; and therefore he is a traitor’ (4.2.161-2). Later, of Lord Say, he is no less unforgiving: ‘Away with him! Away with him! He speaks Latin’ (4.7.55). The Jack Cades of our own time practice a form of populist inverted snobbery which casts education as a vice, or displays of knowledge as somehow eccentric or removed.  It is little wonder then Mr Hannan works in Brussels, for he would receive short shrift for such displays in his own country , even if in the European Parliament he commands ‘the power of speech | To stir men’s blood.’ (Julius Ceaser, 3.2.223-4)

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