Guido got to Manchester this afternoon in search of of the inevitable row post the Irish “Yes” vote. First stop the Bruges group fringe meeting. It looked promising, Guido counted some 600 attendees and it was standing room only, the line-up included Peter Hitchens and Simon Heffer.
Thatcher’s handbag was mentioned in the chairman’s introduction to great acclaim. Heffer was measured in his nevertheless strong critique, Peter Hitchens had the room laughing telling them Cameron has put Rohypnol in the champagne and date-raped the Conservative Party. Lots of laughs, but only half the room clapped. They didn’t like it much when Hitchens told them to stay at home on election day. He said he himself would be in France.
During the Q&A the sense of the audience was Eurosceptic but not Europhobic, there was a lot of antipathy to the Hitchens line. One audience member told him to stay in France. Later on elsewhere Guido bumped into Dan Hannan and asked him where the EU-row fringe was, he emphasised he was very happy with the settled party position and thought that there was a real chance the Czechs could hold the line until election day. He dismissed the idea that there would be any headbanging on Europe – “If Eurosceptics were plotting surely I would know”.