Part Two – Referendum Lies
Here is some of what, informally, I remember from the Leave campaign during the Referendum:
‘£350 million every week for the NHS’ (Cummings, Johnson etc.). Clearly untrue from the start, but very influential nevertheless. Cummings blogged later that is was known from the start to be a lie.
‘We’ve had enough of experts’ (in relation to OBR forecasts for the economy after Brexit), Gove). Gove now makes a virtue of ‘following the science’.
‘It will be very easy to get a good deal’ (Gove). The protracted and fractious nature of the negotiations with the EU shows the opposite to be the case.
‘We can have our cake and eat it’ (Johnson). The EU have made it plain that we can’t retain the benefits of being a member when we have left.
‘Take back control’ (Cummings). What he and other Leavers omitted to mention was that any repatriated control would be less valuable than the control we had already as members of the EU; also that repatriated control would in practice be wielded undemocratically by him personally.
‘Seize control of our borders’ (All Brexiteers). By this is meant, I believe, end free movement, reduce the flow of immigrants, and improve border security. This is a huge subject and requires a separate article, but suffice to say here that there are pros and cons either way, and much depends on implementation.
‘Turkey is joining the EU. Our schools and hospitals already can’t cope’. A completely false claim in a Vote Leave video, viewed by half a million people.
‘Regain our sovereignty’ (All Brexiteers). In a global world, sovereignty is best shared to mutual advantage. Little Britain will retain little influence.
‘Global Britain’ (Johnson). Unfortunately, Britain’s power and influence around the world has already been diminished by Brexit and by the Government’s own actions, for example by the Internal Markets Bill and abolishing the Department of International Development.
‘Sunny uplands await us’ (Johnson). Standard Johnson bullshit. This Prime Minister is clearly not a serious politician.
‘German car-makers will force the German Government to give us a good deal’ (Gove). They haven’t.
‘Easily and quickly make new trade deals around the world’ (All Brexiteers). Hasn’t happened.
‘We will quickly get a massive new trade deal with the USA’ (All Brexiteers). Unlikely to happen now, especially if President Trump is defeated.
The entire Remain campaign predicting that EU exit will cause massive job losses, disruption of trade, lower GDP, higher prices, lower security, lower scientific cooperation, fewer opportunities, was dismissed by Leave as Project Fear (All Brexiteers). These predictions remain true.
Here is what, informally, I don’t remember from the Leave campaign:
Any suggestion that there might be a problem with the border in Northern Ireland, and that the Good Friday Agreement could be jeopardized;
Any suggestion that voters in certain parts of the country, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland, might become so disillusioned with Brexit, and the process for achieving it, that they will want to secede from the Union;
Any suggestion that the promised US trade deal might not be particularly advantageous to the UK, or might not compensate for loss of trade with the EU, or might require deeply unpleasant and undesirable UK concessions concerning our food, agricultural and environmental standards, or might require opening up the NHS to competition or opening UK citizens medical records to US companies, or might require concessions concerning the UK’s ability to tax US companies, etc. etc.;
Any suggestion that a much harsher immigration system post-Brexit might harm the UK economy and leave the agriculture, hospitality, NHS and care sectors in particular very vulnerable;
Any suggestion that replacement trade deals might not be forthcoming at all or only very slowly, and be nowhere nearly significant enough to compensate for the loss of EU trade;
Any suggestion that there would be serious losses of security, environmental or human or employment rights protections for UK citizens;
Any suggestion that UK citizens living in the EU or EU citizens living in the UK would be disadvantaged;
Any suggestion that the wishes of Gibraltar would be ignored.
And now as we leave the EU what is left of the Brexit dream?
Ed: After Paul’s popular review of the saga of the EU Referendum Leave Campaign, he lists the lies that sustained it.