The flimsy, amateurish lies told by Vote Leave are coming back to bite, and threaten to undermine and unnecessarily complicate Brexit
Two weeks after the astonishing vote for Brexit in the EU referendum, and the sheer amateur stupidity of the official Vote Leave campaign is still causing problems, exactly as this blog and others predicted that it would.
The Guardian reports:
In a separate development, Anthony Eskander, a criminal barrister at Church Court Chambers in London, has posted an opinion arguing that politicians supporting the Vote Leave campaign might have opened themselves up to legal action for alleged misrepresentations over claims that quitting the EU would allow an extra £350m to be spent on the NHS.
It claims politicians might have committed offences of misconduct in public office by promoting the £350m claim. The figure has been called “potentially misleading” by the independent UK Statistics Authority, for failing to take into account the UK’s rebate from the EU. Vote Leave denied during the referendum campaign that it was misleading the public.
We’ve heard this charge that politicians’ claims should be vetted by some kind of Ministry of Truth levelled by lots of people, including an audience member on last night’s Question Time. But this is the first time I have seen it translated into legalese, and even if nothing comes of it (as is likely) it further chips away at the legitimacy of the Brexit vote, further dividing the country and encouraging pro-EU supporters to dig in and calcify their positions rather than accepting the country’s verdict and coming together to make the best of Brexit.
Now, of course if they were not hung up on the false £350 million claim they would have found something else to moan about. Many prominent Remainers (and those in the general public) have shown themselves to be exceedingly sore losers in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, seizing on the slightest fault, misstep or constitutional ambiguity to claim that democracy should be suspended and the result of the referendum overturned.
But still, there was no need for the supposed grown-ups in charge of Vote Leave to make it quite so easy for them. There was no need to persist in publicly airing a patently false and comprehensively debunked (by activists on both sides including thinking Brexiteers, incidentally) claim about how much money the UK stood to save from leaving the EU.
The true figure – closer to £160 million once the UK rebate and EU disbursements back to Britain are taken into account – is still a lot of money, and would have looked just as effective plastered on the side of a bus. But no, the Boris/Gove/Cummings triumvirate decreed that £350 was the magic number, and far too many prominent Brexiteers squandered their credibility by repeating it in some form or another over the course of the campaign.
It is now becoming crystal clear that rather than accepting the result of the EU referendum, many disappointed Remainers are determined to wage a guerilla campaign of attrition against Brexit, a last-ditch rearguard effort to prevent the UK from leaving the European Union. They will use the claims of prominent Brexiteers against them (while sweeping their own dubious claims and falsehoods under the carpet, naturally), explore legal loopholes, use delaying tactics and throw every procedural obstacle they can find across our path out of the EU.
None of this is remotely surprising. All of it could have been predicted – and was predicted by this blog. But still the shining ones at Vote Leave persisted with their strategy, handing the pro-EU crowd more ammunition with every new over-hyped soundbite.
That’s why it is good that both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are now no longer in the running for the Conservative Party leadership, however dubious the choice before us now is. Remainers (and their celebrity chums) talk about the unravelling of Johnson, Gove and Farage as being akin to the captain abandoning ship after steering his vessel onto the rocks. But the Brexit vote was achieved in spite, not because of, the campaigning of Vote Leave. The fact that some of their leading lights have now been snuffed out is cause for satisfaction, not concern, because it increases the chances of a mature adult taking the reins and negotiating Brexit like a grown-up.
I don’t want somebody who stubbornly persisted in broadcasting a patently, risibly false claim – like a petulant child caught in an obvious lie – to represent Britain in the coming difficult secession negotiations with the EU. I don’t want anybody leading this country whose antics during the referendum and in its immediate aftermath make Brexit any more complicated than it needs to be.
And regrettably, that rules out many of the people most closely connected with the official Leave campaign.
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I don’t think that the referendum result should be overturned – it is more a case that a referendum result was based on a deceitful campaign designed to divide and con many easily-led, frustrated voters who felt the establishment was not working for them. And it was successful. However the result of the referendum was vaild for one day only – Thursday 23 June 2016. Were the referendum to be run again, now that the claims have rapidly unravelled and the moral turpitude of the leaders of the campaign been revealed, then the result would certainly be different.
Therefore rather than sleepwalk off the edge of the cliff, it makes complete sense for the government to somehow verify that the British Public (now they are in possession of more facts) are still so keen to leave the EU. Democracy is not a single event, it is an on-going process. In much the same way that Michael Gove reflected that, perhaps Boris Johnson was not cut out to be a leader, then perhaps the British Public have realised that perhaps the Leave Campaign deliberately misled them.
The vitriol of many commentaries suggests that many zealots who voted for Leave are aware that they ‘stole’ this referendum, that the result was a statistical outlier, that all rationality was on the side of remaining in the EU, a validation of the status quo – and that is why they scream ‘democracy’ and refuse to allow the on-going process of a representative democracy to continue. And a representative democracy says we have elected representatives of the electorate who consider and scrutinize legislation in order to protect, advocate and promote the interests of their constituents. In no rational place does a representative or liberal democracy allow social, economic and constitutional folly to just happen without challenging the process. Therefore the referendum result must stand, the people of the UK voted to Leave the EU on 23 June 2016. However Parliament has every right to hear what the people have said, and vote NOT to ignite Article 50, as it is not in the interests of their constituents.
Imagine in a moment of madness after much cajoling you signed a contract with Dignitas to end your life. I suspect they would check you were in control of your faculties, and that you hadn’t changed your mind before they administered the drugs that would end your life – they wouldn’t say, “Ah – but after the salesman called you signed the contract, that’s legal and binding. In UK there is a 14-day cooling-off period for financial purchases; suggest this is relevant here, as leaving the EU is irreversible and the campaign was so dishonest.
Why do you persist in discussing the “UK” when that nation will be gone forever when Scotland leaves to stay in the EU, as Scottish voters recently decided.
It’s time to talk about “England”.
Scotland ain’t going anywhere. Nicola Sturgeon’s ego vastly outstrips her nonexistent authority to conduct the kind of subversive parallel foreign policy required to get the EU to agree to Scottish accession. They simply will never do it – the Spanish have already promised to veto, for obvious reasons.
Scottish nationalists may whine and stamp their feet at being dragged out of their beloved EU, but the alternative is brutal isolation outside the UK and EU, with no more transfer payments from Westminster and a population who have been constantly told that they can have lavish socialism paid for by someone else.There may be lots more bold talk about Scottish independence but it ain’t gonna happen any time soon.
I’m surprised that you know so little about this. Why do you characterise this in terms of Nicola Sturgeon? That’s exactly like discussing brexit as the creature solely of Nigel Farage. It’s a wee bit bigger than that. And Scotland’s relationship with Europe is direct, and long predates the formation of the UK.
For a political blogger you lack necessary understanding of what is actually happening to the UK. It is ending, and the disastrous British experiment is nearly over.
The whole world is delighted.
The whole world is delighted at the nonexistent unravelling of the UK? You’re utterly unhinged.
No, I’m just not a British Nationalist. Have you any notion of the contempt that the British state is held in across the world? Obviously not! You believe the BBC provides you with unbiased news too don’t you!
Having travelled reasonably extensively around the world I know that Britain is generally held in estimation and affection, particularly amongst our allies, and that consequently you are talking absolute nonsense.
I don’t know what your beef is with Britain, but it is supremely unfounded. And I tend not to get my information from the BBC – I’ll wager that I receive information from a broader range of sources than you.
Daily Express, eh?