Daniel Hannan

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Daniel Hannan
Daniel Hannan by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Member of the European Parliament
for South East England
Assumed office
14 July 1999
Preceded by Position established
Personal details
Born (1971-09-01) 1 September 1971 (age 44)
Lima, Peru
Nationality British
Political party National:
Conservative Party
Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists
Spouse(s) Sara Hannan (née Maynard)
Children 2[1]
Alma mater Marlborough College
Oriel College, Oxford
Profession Journalist
Religion Christianity


Conservative Party website

Daniel John Hannan (born 1 September 1971)[2] is a British politician, journalist, and author who is a Member of the European Parliament, representing South East England for the Conservative Party. He is also the Secretary-General of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR), and is an advocate of localism and a Eurosceptic.

After stints as a speech-writer for Michael Howard and William Hague, Hannan was elected to the European Parliament at the 1999 election. He led the campaign to withdraw the Conservative Party from the EPP–ED, and was expelled from the group in 2008. Hannan joined the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) with his Conservative colleagues when it was formed in 2009 and became Secretary-General of its sister Europarty, the AECR. He currently serves on the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the delegation to the ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.[2] He is also President of the Young Britons' Foundation and a patron of Reading University Conservative Association.[3]

Hannan advocates localism, and he has written several books arguing for democratic reform. He is a Eurosceptic and is strongly critical of European integration. Besides politics, Hannan is a journalist; he has written newspaper leaders, a blog for The Daily Telegraph and currently writes for the online news website and aggregator CapX, and has published several books. Born in Peru, Hannan speaks Spanish and French fluently.[4] He occasionally delivers speeches to the European Parliament in Spanish and French.[5][6]

Early life[edit]


Hannan was born on his parents' farm near Lima, Peru.[7] His mother is Scottish.[8] Hannan's father served in Italy during the Second World War with the North Irish Horse. Hannan has indicated that his father's Irish Catholic origins made him more sensitive to issues related to Northern Ireland and The Troubles.[9]

Marlborough College

Growing up, he made regular trips to the family's cotton farm in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.[7] After spending his childhood in Peru, Hannan was educated at Winchester House School, Marlborough College and Oriel College, Oxford, where he studied Modern History.[7] He speaks English, French and Spanish.[4]

Early political career[edit]

Hannan was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) in 1992. When standing in OUCA's committee elections for Michaelmas 1991, his strongly Eurosceptic views prompted accusations of "xenophobia" in the Oxford student paper Cherwell, prompting Hannan to threaten them with legal action.[10] He also served as national vice-chairman of Conservative Students from 1992 to 1993, and then chairman of Conservative Graduates from 1994.[11] He had earlier established the Oxford Campaign for an Independent Britain, and on 12 September 1992 led a members' protest at a European financial summit held in Bath, which was widely televised and, he has since light-heartedly claimed, led to the withdrawal of the Pound Sterling from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism a few days later.[12]

Through the CIB he became involved with the Bruges Group, and after he graduated he became, in 1994, director of a Eurosceptic political think-tank, the European Research Group. In 1996 he was hired by the Daily Telegraph as a leader-writer,[11] and has since contributed to The Spectator and many other newspapers and magazines around the world. In 1997 he became an adviser and speechwriter to Michael Howard, then Shadow Foreign Secretary,[13] and in 1998 he was given a place on the Conservative candidates' list for the following year's European Parliament election. He later became a speechwriter for party leader William Hague.[7] In 1999 he stood down from his posts at the European Research Group and Conservative Graduates.[11]

Member of the European Parliament[edit]

Hannan was first elected to the European Parliament in 1999.

A year after his first election, Hannan courted controversy when he appeared to be using the Conservative Party's central office as headquarters for a campaign to persuade Danish voters to block the introduction of the European Single Currency; however, he was able to show that the campaign was actually being run from his Westminster flat.[14]

In his first term, he served on the Committee on Fisheries and the Delegation for Relations with Afghanistan.[2]

He was re-elected at the top of his party's list for the South East England constituency in 2004.

Hannan led the campaign to withdraw the Conservatives from the European People's Party–European Democrats (EPP–ED) group in the European Parliament and form a new anti-federalist group.[15] Hannan welcomed David Cameron's promise during Cameron's successful 2005 leadership campaign to withdraw: even promising to leave the EPP–ED unilaterally if the party didn't.[16]

In April 2008, Daniel Hannan was elected to the top position of the Conservative list for the 2009 European elections in the constituency of South East England, and in June 2009 he was re-elected to the European Parliament.[17]

In April 2009, he criticised an EC Directive that would end the exemption in British law for religious groups to discriminate on grounds on conscience.[18]

Campaign against the Lisbon Treaty[edit]

Hannan opposed ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the European Parliament and was one of several MEPs who took part in a demonstration in the chamber after Parliament voted to endorse the Treaty. He has continued to speak against the Treaty, and in the manner of Cato the Elder's famous call, Carthago delenda est, he ended every speech, whatever its subject, with a call for the Lisbon Treaty to be put to a referendum: "Pactio Olisipiensis censenda est".[19][20]

Expulsion from the EPP-ED[edit]

Hannan at the 20th anniversary of the Bruges Group in October 2008, which commemorated Margaret Thatcher's eurosceptic Bruges Speech.

Attempts by several MEPs to disrupt the work of the Parliament resulted in a majority of Members endorsing a rule change which gave the Speaker/President the discretion to limit the use of filibustering procedures if he "is convinced that these are manifestly intended to cause, and will result in, a prolonged and serious obstruction of the procedures of the House or the rights of other Members" (Rule 20, para 1). In the parliamentary session just before the new rule was to be presented by the President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering,[citation needed]

Hannan criticised what he termed a deviation from the rule of law. He continued speaking after his allocated time had ended by quoting Edmund Burke, but was interrupted mid-quote and had his microphone cut off by Luigi Cocilovo, one of the 14 Vice-Presidents.[21] He then responded by damning, without vocal amplification, what he claimed were Parliament's deviations from its own rules:[22][23]

An absolute majority is not the same as the rule of law. I accept that there is a minority in this house in favour of a referendum. That there is a minority in this house against the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. But this house must nonetheless follow its own rulebooks. And by popular acclamation to discard the rules under which we operate is indeed an act of arbitrary and despotic rule. It is only my regard for you Mr. Chairman and my personal affection for you that prevents me from likening it to the Ermächtigungsgesetz of 1933 which was also voted through by a parliamentary majority.

Pöttering is a German national and a member of the same political group (EPP-ED) as Hannan. Hannan's remarks were attacked by other MEPs from the EPP-ED. The head of EPP-ED, Joseph Daul, responded by initiating proceedings to expel Hannan immediately from their Group. Hannan left the EPP-ED on 20 February 2008. He sat, for the remainder of the five-year term as a Non-Inscrit (not being a member of any of the Parliament's groups).[24] Following his 2009 re-election, he sits with the new eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists along with his Conservative Party colleagues.

"The Devalued Prime Minister" – YouTube Hit[edit]

Hannan came to prominence after making a speech in the European Parliament criticising Gordon Brown.[25] On 24 March 2009, after Gordon Brown had given a short speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg in advance of the G20 London summit, Hannan followed up by delivering a 3-minute speech strongly criticising the response by Gordon Brown to the global financial crisis.[26] He finished the speech with the phrase, "the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government", which was a quote from a speech by Labour Party leader John Smith criticising then-Prime Minister John Major in 1992.[27]

A video clip of the speech went viral on YouTube that evening,[28][29] attracting more than 630,000 views in 24 hours.[26][30] It became the 'most viewed today' YouTube video worldwide two consecutive days.[30] Hannan was invited to appear on several shows on American cable news channels, including Fox News and MSNBC: he appeared on television programme Hannity via video link at 9pm EST on the same day,[31] and on the Glenn Beck Program the following day.[32][33] He also appeared on Your World with Neil Cavuto, where he stated he would have voted for Ron Paul in the 2008 presidential election had he been an American citizen.[34] The main British television channels, particularly the BBC and ITV, gave the speech fairly limited coverage, for which they faced some criticism from Conservative MPs and "a handful of viewers";[35] Conservative MP Nigel Evans stated that their lack of coverage rendered YouTube the 'ultimate in public service broadcasting'. As of July 2012, there had been almost 3 million views of the clip.

ECR and AECR[edit]

Hannan was re-elected in the 2009 European election, having been voted by party members to top the Conservatives' list in South East England. After the election, the Conservatives united with other anti-federalist, centre-right parties to form the European Conservatives and Reformists, for which Hannan had campaigned. Hannan was appointed the group's legal spokesperson. He resigned this position on 5 November 2009, after David Cameron announced that he wouldn't hold a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon,[36] saying that he wanted to concentrate on campaigning for a referendum.[37] However, he accepted Cameron's decision, provided that a referendum on European integration was held.[38]

Hannan became the first Secretary-General of the ECR-affiliated European political party – the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) – when it was founded on 1 October 2009.

He criticised a ban on blood donation by people who had visited the United States less than one month previously, a measure instituted due to the risk posed by West Nile fever following the 2003 US epidemic.[18]

At the 2014 European Parliament Elections, Hannan was again re-elected representing the South East of England.[39]

Political positions[edit]


Hannan is an advocate of localism.[7] He believes that local government independence is impossible without giving local government self-financing.[40] To that end, he supports replacing Value Added Tax with a local sales tax, set by local councils.[7]

Electoral reform[edit]

Hannan argues in his writings and in the media (for example, during an appearance on Question Time on BBC television on 28 May 2009) for ballot initiatives (whereby electors can directly enact legislation as happens in Switzerland), a power of recall (whereby a sitting Member of Parliament can be forced to submit to re-election if enough of his local electorate support this), fixed term parliaments, local and national referendums, open primaries and the abolition of party lists. He is also an advocate of Single Transferable Vote as a replacement for the UK's First Past The Post system of voting.

Economic policy[edit]

Hannan wrote in March 2011 criticizing anti-austerity protesters, stating that they "have decided to indulge their penchant for empty, futile, self-righteous indignation." He remarked, "After "No Cuts!" the marchers' favourite slogan was "Fairness!" All right, then... How about being fair to our children, whom we have freighted with a debt unprecedented in peacetime?"[41]

Foreign policy[edit]

Hannan has a 'deep admiration' of the United States,[42] and describes himself as an Atlanticist with inherently positive views of the United States as well as other nations of the Anglosphere.

Hannan supports the British efforts in the Afghanistan war after the September 11th attacks, pointing out that "more British subjects died in the Twin Towers than in any terrorist atrocity in our history – more than at Lockerbie or Omagh" (see Pan Am Flight 103 and Omagh bombing). He also supports a timetable for set military withdrawal from the country. He wrote in June 2010, "there comes a point when our presence is doing more harm than good, serving to destabilise Pakistan rather than to stabilise Afghanistan. We are reaching that point now."[43] He opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq undertaken during the premiership of Tony Blair.[44] He was one of few British politicians who opposed British intervention in Libya.[42]

He endorsed then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama for President on 18 October 2008. He stated that a McCain presidency would mean an "imperial overstretch", particularly arguing that the U.S. should have been preparing to leave Iraq immediately. He labelled Obama's opponents as symbolic of "big federal budgets, protectionism, crony capitalism and, for that matter, the socialisation of failing banks."[45] On 14 June 2010, Hannan took back his endorsement, which he called his "single most unpopular post" in his blogging career. He argued, "Any American reader who wants to know where Obamification will lead should spend a week with me in the European Parliament. I'm working in your future and, believe me, you won't like it." He also accused the Obama administration of straining the special relationship between the US and the UK, particularly over the Falkland Islands.[46]

Social policy[edit]

Hannan is opposed to the concept of "victimless crimes", and he favours drug decriminalisation: "I'd start with cannabis, and if that worked I wouldn't in principle be against decriminalising heroin."[7]

Health care[edit]

In April 2009, he criticised claims that the National Health Service was the greatest British invention, saying that it is clearly eclipsed by the inventions of parliamentary democracy, penicillin, and common law, the discovery of DNA, or the abolition of slavery.[47] He said that the NHS has left Britain with low survival rates for cancers and strokes, a high risk of becoming more ill in hospital, and with constant waiting lists. He remarked on American television at a time when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was being debated that he "wouldn't wish it [the NHS] on anyone". David Cameron, who had said that his priorities were "three letters: NHS", distanced himself from Hannan's remarks, saying that Hannan has "some rather eccentric points of view".[48][49]

Writing in The Telegraph, Hannan said of the media storm provoked by his comments:

On a visit to the US, I was asked by an interviewer whether I would recommend a British-style health-care model, paid for out of general taxation. I replied that all three parties were devoted to the NHS, and that it had public support (although I added that this was at least partly the result of the inaccurate belief that free health care for the poor is a unique attribute of the British system). But I didn't want to dissemble: I have for years argued that Britain would be better off with a Singapore-style system of personal health-care accounts. So I cautioned against nationalisation, citing international league tables on survival rates and waiting times.[50][51]

At the same time, he made the wider point that: "we seem to have lost the notion that a backbencher speaks for himself. I like David Cameron, and want him to be Prime Minister, not least so that Britain stops racking up debt. But the idea that I therefore agree with him on every issue is, when you think about it, silly."[50]

Enoch Powell[edit]

It was reported in August 2009 that Hannan had praised the Conservative politician Enoch Powell as "somebody who understood the importance of national democracy, who understood why you need to live in an independent country and what that meant, as well as being a free marketeer and a small-government Conservative."[52][53]

However, he is also on record as saying, "For what it's worth, I think Enoch Powell was wrong on immigration. The civil unrest that he forecast, and that many feared in 1968, didn't materialise. Britain assimilated a large population with an ease that few countries have matched. Being an immigrant myself, I have particular cause to be grateful for Britain's understated cosmopolitanism."[54]

Writing on The Telegraph website, Mr Hannan said: "I’m surprised that no one has picked up on the thing that I most admire about Enoch Powell, namely his tendency to ignore conventional wisdom and think things through from first principles. Like Rowan Williams, he always did his hearers the courtesy of addressing them as intelligent adults. Both men regularly got into trouble in consequence, either because they were genuinely misunderstood or because their detractors affected to misunderstand them. Neither responded by dumbing down. That, in politics, takes a special kind of integrity."[55]


In spring 2012, Hannan suggested that an accommodation be made between the Conservative Party and the UK Independence Party (UKIP),[56] something he has done repeatedly since.[57][58][59] In November 2014 Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim published a comment piece in The Guardian criticising Hannan's outspoken criticism of the EU and Conservative Party leadership and saying that Hannan seemed to be more "aligned to Ukip messaging than the more nuanced position mainstream parties have taken on the EU"; at the same time Tory MP Mark Pritchard wrote on Twitter: "If Daniel Hannan wants to go to Ukip he should just go, rather than damaging the re-election prospects of Conservative MPs in marginal seats."[60]

Journalism and other work[edit]

Hannan has been a leader writer for the Daily Telegraph since 1996.[61] He has also written for various other newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, the German daily Die Welt, the Swiss weekly Weltwoche, The Sunday Telegraph, The Catholic Herald, Freedom Today, the Brussels Journal and The Spectator.

He was the co-founder of a direct democracy group ("Direct Democracy") and co-author, along with 27 Conservative MPs elected in 2005, of Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party, which proposes the wholesale devolution of power and the direct election of decision-makers. These ideas were developed further in a series of six pamphlets, The Localist Papers, serialised in The Daily Telegraph in 2007.

Awards and distinctions[edit]

In 2009, Hannan was awarded the Bastiat Prize for Online Journalism for his Telegraph blog.[62] He was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in blogging in 2011.[63] In 2014, Hannan won the Political Books Awards polemic of the year award, for his book How We Invented Freedom and Why it Matters.[64]

He won Speech of the Year at the 2009 Spectator Awards, for his Gordon Brown speech in the European Parliament.[65]

He has been named by The Telegraph as one of the 100 most-influential people on the centre-right in the United Kingdom for the last four years: peaking as the tenth-most influential in 2009.[66] This was up from 86th in 2008.[67] He fell to 33rd in 2010,[68] followed by 38th in 2011.[69]



  • Hannan, Daniel (1993). Time for a fresh start in Europe. London: Bow Publications. 
  • Towards 1996: Britain in a Multi-Speed Europe. London: Institute for European Defence & Strategic Studies. 1994. ISBN 978-0-907967-54-5. 
  • The Challenge of the East. 1996. 
  • A Guide to the Amsterdam Treaty. London: European Research Group. 1997. 
  • The Euro: Bad for Business. London: European Research Group. 1998. 
  • What if Britain Votes No?. 2002. 
  • The Case for EFTA. London: Bruges Group. 2004. ISBN 978-0-9547087-3-3. 
  • Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party. Douglas Carswell. 2005. ISBN 978-0-9550598-0-3. 
  • The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain. Douglas Carswell. Lulu.com. 2008. ISBN 978-0-9559799-0-3. 
  • The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America. London: HarperCollins. 2010. ISBN 978-0-06-195694-2. 
  • Why America Must Not Follow Europe. New York: Encounter Books. 2011. ISBN 978-1-59403-560-9. 
  • A Doomed Marriage: Britain and Europe. London: Notting Hill Editions. 2012. ISBN 978-1-907-90322-9. 
  • How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters. London: Head of Zeus. 2013. ISBN 9781781857533. 

Essays and reporting[edit]

  • Hannan, Daniel (4 January 2014). "Here come the pirates! The Eurocrats are crazy to dismiss all the new, diverse Europsceptic parties as 'far right'". The Spectator 324 (9671): 8–9. 


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External links[edit]