But we may not have arrived at this sorry state of affairs had it not been for the blatant lies that underpin the entire Brexit project. Let’s remind ourselves of some of those many falsehoods and where they began.
Vote Leave – fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – was the official campaign group backing Brexit. Vote Leave was examined by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of its inquiry into fake news.
Some of Vote Leave’s ads were blatant lies that aimed to instil fear, such as incorrectly claiming that Turkey was about to join the EU:
Indeed, Turkey first applied to join the EU over 30 years ago and it would appear it is highly unlikely that it would be accepted anytime soon. It’s understood that 45% of Vote Leave’s Facebook ads exploited fears about immigration.
Another infamous lie emanating from the Vote Leave campaign concerned the claim that the UK paid £350m to the EU each week. But Full Fact made it clear that claim was “wrong” and the UK Statistics Authority confirmed it was a “clear misuse of official statistics”.
As The Canary previously reported, the DCMS report also accused Leave.EU, fronted by Nigel Farage, of publishing fake news. Leave.EU produced the infamous ‘breaking point’ posters, which were reported to the police as a “blatant attempt to incite racial hatred”.
Debunking Brexit lies
Shout Out UK offers a list of “Brexit lies debunked”. For example:
- “Migrants are stealing Briton’s jobs and the UK would have control over its borders”.
- “UK Sovereignty is at stake.”
- “The EU is undemocratic and resembles Nazi Germany. Boris Johnson made the statement that Hitler and Napoleon both failed to unify Europe, and the EU has done the same.”
- “Poverty in the North has nothing to do with austerity, it’s the European bureaucrats’ fault.”
- “EU forbids the UK from forming trade deals with other countries. Leaving the EU would allow the UK to form trade deals with the rest of the world.”
- “The European Army creation”
- “Lisbon Treaty Conspiracy Theory. This involved many lies in one document that spread around on different social media channels. Many of the tweets started with, ‘I have been reading the Lisbon Treaty’. This misinformation campaign began in March 2019 when it looked like the UK may not leave the EU.”
More false claims and media lies
GQ magazine offers an A-Z of Brexit lies.
Brexit Lies also provides several hundred examples of media publishing fake news and downright lies about the EU. It prefaces the list, saying:
brexit promised a lot of things: sovereignty, preserved -free- access to the single market, more prosperity and £350 millions extra to the NHS every week. We now know these were all lies, there is no prosperity ahead, no money for the NHS, no more EU moeny [sic] for farmers and no more freedom to go work, live and love in 27 other countries.
The European Commission in the UK, meanwhile, put together ten examples of myths about the European Union:
- “EU data protection rules do not ban Christmas wish lists – in Bavaria or elsewhere”.
- EU delays have not prevented “getting safe cancer drugs to children”.
- “Barmy EU chiefs” did not “say people should stop eating fish and chips”.
- The “EU is acting on scientific evidence to cut lead in toys, not stopping children colouring”.
- “EU moves to end impunity for dangerous drivers” equally across all states, with no “‘quirk of EU law” discriminating in some way against British drivers”.
- “Ceiling flaw in suggestion EU rules behind payments to big landowners”.
- “EU doctors in UK are not ‘a threat to patients’ as Daily Mail says. If they left, that WOULD put patients in danger”.
- “Sun’s imperial “up yours” to Brussels falls down on the facts”
- The Daily Express was “wrong to call green cars ‘waste’ and wrong to suggest EU is prioritising them above terrorism”
- “Medical devices: Daily Mail misrepresents EU system and fails to mention reforms”
And it goes on
An editorial in the Guardian on 10 December, brings us up to date:
Boris Johnson got where he is today by telling lies about Europe. He made stories up as a journalist. He told fibs on an industrial scale in the referendum campaign. Now he is telling whoppers as prime minister too. There was an “oven-ready” EU trade deal. Not true. The chances of no deal were “absolutely zero”. Same again. Britain was prepared for any outcome after 31 December. Utterly false. The prospect of EU tariffs on British goods was “totally and utterly absurd”. Another porkie.
As for the so-called Australian-style deal Johnson’s so fond of quoting, as yet there is no EU-Australia free trade agreement in place, as explained by former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull:
“Be careful what you wish for. Australia’s relationship with the EU is not one, from a trade point of view, that Britain would want.”
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) December 10, 2020
But if a deal between the EU and Australia does go ahead, a UK equivalent will simply mean trading on World Trade Organisation terms. That would mean tariffs and likely price rises passed on to consumers.
To sum up
In the end the Brexit lies paid off, with the guilty suitably rewarded. Johnson became prime minister and many of his Brexit colleagues were awarded ministerial positions in his government. Johnson also appointed Dominic Cummings, former head of Vote Leave, as Downing Street senior adviser (though he now ‘works from home’). It’s understood that several Downing Street jobs have gone to those who organised the Vote Leave campaign.
Then there’s Faculty AI, previously known as Advanced Skills Initiative (ASI) and a supplier to Vote Leave. As reported by The Canary, in recent months Faculty was awarded at least 13 government contracts, worth £3m.
In short, Tory Brexit, like Johnson &Co, can be described as a mammoth fraud that arguably serves only those politicians who hark back to empire, or the financial interests of a few businesses. Indeed Rachel Johnson warned in 2019 that her brother could be facing pressure from “people who have invested billions in shorting the pound or shorting the country in the expectation of a no-deal Brexit”.
But deal or no-deal, the British public has been well and truly conned.
And Johnson is an out and out liar of the highest order.
Featured image via Youtube