What is the point of Dan Hannan these days ? What has befallen the Titan who used to bestride the Newsnight studio with confidence , proclaiming , in 2016 that Brexit would be a gentle process ? Who is this tortured soul in the carapace formerly occupied by Dan?
Admittedly the night didn’t start well for Hannan .
He had to remind Urban he was very much a current MEP .
’One of the few remaining Conservatives’ said Hannan rather testily . Perhaps that played on his mind .A sign that he was yesterday’s man . Despite having been amongst the first to put his shoulder to the wheel to get the Brexit Bandwagon rolling Hannan was now consigned to the periphery .A shadow of his former self .
Hannan cast a nervous figure , expecting to be shot down in flames , as if he sensed at some level he was running on empty . But he could have put his fears aside . His exaggerated claim about Prosperity UK’s ‘solution’ passed unchallenged .Mark Urban didn’t seem up to speed on it- no Maitliss or Barnett style push back faced Hannan tonight .
He was free to bluster to his heart’s content .He tried to hit his stride . ‘ In fact ‘ he said glossing the case with a lacing of superficial truth in his characteristic manner ‘ the work has been done by academics and trade experts( errr- you mean Shanker Singham , IEA, and ERG Dan?????) and led by former Remain MPs Greg Hands and Nicky Morgan (asked to front by May in last ditch attempt to rescue her WA) .
All of this gilding the lily went unchecked by Urban . Ask him about infantry deployments and he gets quite animated . But up to speed on Trade and UK land border with EU after 3 years of Brexit? Not so much . Doesn’t seem to be a priority for editor Esme Wren and her team of Newsnight presenters although Maitliss and Barnett do stand out as getting to grips with the issues .
At this point Hannan should have sensed it was his night for an easy ride . Just put the ball in the back of the net Dan!
But he knew his words were not hitting the target .He had lost his touch .The readers of the Express would never find out . The headline would be something like : ‘Dan Destroys EU for Intransigent Idiocy ‘. But here on the airwaves his words were falling on deaf ears .
Sir Simon Fraser , former Permanent Secretary at F.O. , looked at Hannan with a measure of suppressed disbelief .Deploying his mandarin froideur , he dealt with the substance of the issue . Which meant Hannan received all the attention he deserved . None .
So Hannan left the studio without his thin , tendentious arguments being dismantled .But knowing his days as player are nearing their end .Soon he will be lucky to get off the Subs Bench .Your number’s up Dan