Brexit still means Brexit, as David Davis recently confirmed for all of us who were afraid that definitions of words might have changed in the three months between the EU referendum and now. But do Brexiteers still stand for what Brexiteers said they stood for? After retreating from some of the most central pledges of their campaign to pull Britain out of the European Union right after we collectively voted to leave, prominent Brexiteer politicians like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have kept their lips tightly sealed on what a deal might look like for Britain (Farage, of course, memorably said that promising £350m for the NHS if we voted for Brexit was “a mistake”.) But luckily Douglas Carswell, another Ukip member of the Leave campaign most fondly remembered for the sunglasses emoji he tweeted straight after Farage announced his resignation, has confirmed to us all that the Brexit brigade hasn’t forgotten its roots.
Prominent Brexiteers have gone on record saying they’re sick of a lot of things: the “bureaucratic elite”; Romanians living next door; Turkey, foreign people with HIV; foreign people with tuberculosis; people whingeing on about climate change; trade boycotts of Israeli goods; Napoleon; Chinese people thinking they invented table tennis; that sadistic mental hospital nurse Hillary Clinton; Barack Obama; Donald Trump; Scousers being sad about Hillsborough; “the establishment”; fishermen being told where to fish, and so on. But most of all they were sick of experts. And this week, Douglas Carswell carried on the time-honoured tradition of sticking it to the people who think they know best.
If you, like me, have had it up to here with people telling you you’re wrong about your opinions just because they have access to things like facts and numbers and science, then you’ll have been overjoyed to see Carswell’s Twitter exchange with a professor in science policy this week. “Jupiter is big but the moon moves tides,” tweeted Paul Nightingale from Sussex University, while making a wider point about trade deals between the UK and China. Carswell jumped in on the defensive, claiming that it’s the gravitational pull of the sun which causes tides. “Sorry Douglas, you’ve been misinformed,” the professor replied politely, before being told that Carswell was “surprised head of science research at a university refutes idea sun’s gravity causes tides”.
Paul Nightingale’s final reply – “Douglas, this isn’t a controversial point. It’s in Newton’s Principia” – smacked of academic arrogance. Who are we to trust a scientist on gravity, after all? Most of us get along fine in the world without knowing the exact equations which explain gravity’s existence. It’s not like those of us without physics degrees just float off the surface of the earth, is it? Who’s to say a plain-talking journalist like me might not have some great ideas about NASA’s future construction of spacecraft capable of making the treacherous voyage to Mars? And why won’t they reply to my emails?
Yes, I was over the moon to see Douglas Carswell sticking to his principles and refuting the claims of experts about our universe. Or should I say over the sun. It’s good to know he has solid opinions on where the tides are coming from as we ride the waves of Brexit, otherwise we might end up going under.
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