Here follows a lengthy reply I gave to someone on Twitter who sent me an (even lengthier) piece on what he called “Lies, Exaggerations and Threats from the Remain Side – Now & Then”.
Originally my reply appeared as a TwitLonger post, but the person to whom I was replying asked me to delete that post as it referenced his username, so I obliged (and that is why I’m not linking to his tweets or referring to him by his username).
However, given the amount of time invested in coming up with rebuttals and replies, I’m not going to let it go to waste, so here it is in blog format… The italicised text is where I am quoting his text directly.
A: LIES ABOUT THE ‘£350M FOR THE NHS SLOGAN’
It is only people on the Remain side who say this was a promise or is a lie. If those remainers thought it was a promise then, why didn’t they vote for it? After all, many of the people who adduce this ‘evidence’ also worship the NHS and think more money should go into it.
You’ve misunderstood the nature of the lie. The lie is that the UK pays £350m a week to the EU. It doesn’t. Its contribution is about half that, and of course it is not a ‘gift’ or a levy, it is an investment the return on which far exceeds the outlay.
To deny that the Leave campaign – including leading Cabinet ministers – were not trying to influence voters by suggesting that the false figure of £350m a week would be taken away from the EU and given to the NHS is just pure sophistry – you know that this is what they were doing, and key Leave strategists acknowledge that this lie is what won them the referendum.
B: LIES TOLD PRE-REFERENDUM: THINGS WHICH WERE SAID WOULD HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY UPON A VOTE TO LEAVE – AND NOT JUST WHEN WE HAVE ACTUALLY LEFT
B1. A very hypothetical, worst-case scenario lower GDP in 30 years time by £4300 called a ‘Cost to every family’ (George Osborne)
To imply that every person who voted Remain is somehow complicit in every statement made by Cameron and Osborne is ludicrous – they are Public Enemy Number One for patriotic Remainers, as the villains who launched this totally unnecessary referendum in the first place and caved in to the fundamentalist right wingers.
That said, there is every prospect of the UK’s GDP falling to this worst case forecast, or even further. Naturally, we don’t know yet, but the signs are all there. Is this a “lie”? No of course not – a forecast is a forecast, a politician might choose a forecast that suits the argument he seeks to make, that is not the same as a deliberate and malicious lie, the kind that Leave told about the £350m, about Turkey joining the EU, etc, etc, and they’re still telling them, eg “40 years of EU legislation that was never scrutinised”.
B2. “I will trigger Article 50 on June 28th,” (Cameron).
You’re trying to discredit us by association with Cameron?? No sale.
B3. “I wont resign,” if the referendum result is in Leave’s favour – David Cameron.
I’m not interested in defending Cameron.
B4. “Interest rates could rise,” (Mark Carney).
That they “could” is a statement of plain fact. Inflation is heading up and will head up further, against wider trends in the developed world – wait and see what happens to interest rates in the medium to long term.
B5. ‘In the event of voting leave I will hold an emergency budget’: (George Osborne)
Get used to emergency budget after emergency budget as the UK government tries to plug the gaps created by Brexit in coming years.
B6. No plans for an EU Army. This is what Nick Clegg said on 2 April 2016: “This is a dangerous fantasy. The idea that there’s going to be a European air force, a European army, it is simply not true.”
Yeah, he was being disingenuous, both that there is no plan for an EU Army (we already have EU brigades and well-developed EU military capabilities) and that it’s a “dangerous fantasy” (it’s not, it’s a very necessary reality and the opposite of dangerous, because we need this for our own future security).
B7. ‘The Queen didn’t back Brexit’.
It’s the Queen, who gives a monkey’s what she thinks?
B8. ‘A Brexit vote will create an INSTANT DIY recession’ (George Osborne).
I don’t care what Osborne said, and serious people were not saying that a recession would be “instant” but that the UK’s economic performance would be seriously hit by Brexit, and indeed this is exactly what is happening, even before Brexit takes place.
B9. ‘Brexit might kill The City of London’
Yep. Jobs already haemorrhaging away from the City, this will continue, we will see a long-term decline in the City’s status and where it would/could have been without Brexit – and this will of course impact the UK’s tax base (disaster for eg NHS) and also London’s property market (small silver lining).
B10. ‘Brexit would lead to 100000 banking jobs being lost’
We’re already on the way to that figure.
B11. “The Commission is just like the Civil Service.” Various, including the Commission itself.
The Commission Services (for which I have worked for 22 years) are the civil service, working to and for the Executive, which is the College of Commissioners, an appointed body of senior politicians who fulfil the same role in European government as the Cabinet fulfils in UK national government. In terms of democratic legitimacy, the College of Commissioners has imo more of it than the Cabinet – the President is appointed as the candidate of the largest political grouping in the Parliament, the members of the College are nominated by national governments, each is subject to a confirmation hearing by the Parliament, and the College as a whole can be sacked by the Parliament. All considerably more democratic than the UK’s executive.
B12. ‘The EU is democratic’ – various
See above. Also, see http://ottocr.at/125/
B13. ‘The EU is more democratic than the UK’ – Alan Butt Philip, former Reader Honorary Reader in European Integration, University of Bath.
Yes, I know, I believe he drew on my work. Naturally, I agree with him.
B14. “There is no prospect of Turkey joining the EU in decades.”
If Turkey were to join, what would be so terrible about that? What’s your problem with Turkey? Turkey could only join if it fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria and after fundamental reform and restructuring of its economy and political environment, and it would be a fantastic thing if it got to this point, and a great boost for Europe’s security and prosperity.
B15. ‘No one wants a United States of Europe’ – Guy Verhofstadt.
I want a United States of Europe.
B17. “EU roaming charges now down to near-zero; gone entirely next year. Consumers are better off remaining in the EU.”
Roaming charges within the EU are now gone. Not all UK providers have promised to continue to respect EU rules once the UK leaves. Note that roaming in non-EU European countries eg Switzerland is still incredibly expensive.
B18. ‘The UK is more secure in the EU’ – Michael Fallon. Security Expert and Government advisor Colonel Richard Kemp disagrees.
Richard Kemp is a foaming europhobe, not a serious figure, on the political fringe, and not someone I could ever take seriously. Of course the UK is more secure in the EU – I mean, just look at the reality. http://ottocr.at/european-consolidation-and-disintegration-past-and-future/
C: POST-RESULT REMAIN LIES
C1. ‘We need the EU to protect human rights’
You: “We were hardly under a regime which abused human rights before we joined the EU. We can also protect human rights with domestic legislation, we don’t need the EU to do this. It is also worth noting that EU human rights protection is less than 10 years old. We were doing okay before that, weren’t we?”
This is incredibly complacent. If you look at how the current government is treating asylum seekers, refugees, foreign nationals, the disabled, how can you trust it to respect your human rights? It wants to gut the Human Rights Act, and you trust them because, what, they are British? That’s incredibly complacent and naïve. Human rights need protecting. Seeing what has happened to the UK Home Office under Theresa May, I would not trust her or her government for one second with my human rights.
You said: “Also, EU law allows for the killing of citizens by the state.”
Capital punishment is expressly forbidden by the EU Treaties. What you are referring to relates to the use of force by the state’s law enforcement and military. Are you saying that the UK post-Brexit will make it illegal for its police or its military to use lethal force?
C2. ‘Voting to leave the single market was not on the ballot paper’; or ‘There is no mandate to leave the single market’.
You fall into further sophistry. We all know what was on the ballot paper (a simplistic and imprecise binary question). How that result should be interpreted was left entirely open to question and debate, a debate which we are not having because the UK government led by Leave ayatollahs has stamped on it. It is perfectly possible to be outside the EU but in the Single Market, and this is exactly what all prominent Leave campaigners promised would happen. There are trade-offs which mean that it would come at a cost, but that is a debate which should be had, not suppressed.
C3 ‘The referendum was advisory’ so can be ignored – AC Grayling
The referendum was non-binding. We live in a parliamentary democracy. There is a reason why modern democracies with a history of fascism now ban referendums. Referendums are anti-democratic, reducing complex issues to simplistic binary questions where the motivation of voters is often unrelated to the issue on the ballot paper, especially where that issue is complex and something which a large proportion of the electorate don’t understand. This is obviously true of the EU, not least as the public has been systematically misinformed and lied to by generations of politicians and newspaper moguls. What we are witnessing is a populist coup, and honourable patriots should resist it. No serious modern democracy would countenance such a fundamental change to its governance – with such serious implications for its security and prosperity – on the basis of a 52/49 vote and as Leavers said before the referendum on such a narrow win it would be “far from over”.
C4. “A majority of the UK population wishes to remain in the EU. Proof: have another referendum. Include 16-17yr olds, all expats, all taxpayers”
I don’t want another referendum, see above, I want parliament to assume its responsibility and do what’s in the national interest.
You said: “Firstly, ex-pats are not a part of the ‘UK population’.”
So now you’re depriving British citizens of their citizenship? You don’t think British citizens should have a say on a fundamental, existential matter for their country?
C5. “The ref was advisory, major constitutional change requires supermajority if vote for it is to be binding.” – AC Grayling
See above. “Oh but we don’t have a proper constitution” IS NOT AN ARGUMENT.
C6. ‘Hate crime has surged’ – The Guardian
It unquestionably has and your attempt to explain this away as nothing to do with Brexit and the current wave of xenophobia lashing the country simply undermines the rest of what you say. As I said to you on Twitter, “Not all Leavers are Nazis, but all Nazis are Leavers… Brexit was fed by and feeds an atmosphere of xenophobia stoked by redtop press.”
It cannot be repeated too often: the European Union was established explicitly as a tool against Nazis. That’s why it exists.
C7. ‘The EU is an outward-looking organisation. We have become isolated and insular due to Brexit.’
You said: “If the EU is so outward-looking, why is its list of current free trade agreements so pitifully short?”
Oh God. See my Twitter posts and threads and blog posts passim. Here for example. https://twitter.com/ottocrat/status/894304509568180224
C8. “The queues seen at airports are due to Brexit.”
They’re not due to Brexit. However, Brexit will make travel harder, not easier. That’s a given.
C9. “Food standards will be threatened post-Brexit.”
Yes naturally if Liam Fox has his way and we have a bonfire of regulations, deregulating the food industry means removing standards, ie they are threatened.
C10 ‘The EU does not drive down wages’ – Vince Cable.
This is a straw man, and circular to boot. EU policy will do what it does, and if people don’t like it, they should vote for a different policy in national and European elections. Same as in a national election, if you don’t like the national government’s policies, or in a local election, mutatis mutandis.
C11. “We can control immigration and therefore remain in the EU” – Tony Blair
We already control immigration. Freedom of Movement is a wonderful thing and destroying it will be one of the greatest mistakes ever made by a British government.
C12. ‘The Tories are only pushing for Brexit because the EU has anti-tax avoidance laws coming into effect in early 2019.’
First I’ve ever heard this claim so I’m calling straw man. Of course it’s not why the fundamentalists are pushing for Brexit.
D. GENERAL LIES/MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE EU PROPAGATED BY PRO-EU PEOPLE
D1. “EU law doesn’t prevent the railways being renationalised”.
It doesn’t. If it did, why are so many railways across the EU state-owned? What it does is oblige rolling stock and infrastructure to be incorporated separately – both can be state-owned, however.
D2. ‘EU law won’t prevent Government aid or nationalisation of the steelworks’
We have competition rules, that’s one of the benefits of being in the EU. It’s about creating a level playing field to make the Single Market function. If state aid is in breach of EU competition rules, it is not allowed. This isn’t a blanket ban on all state aid, or on nationalisation, both of which are policy tools used by all EU member states all the time.
D3. “Labour’s better than expected performance in the 2017 election was a rejection of Brexit and/or a ‘hard Brexit’.”
Straw man. People voted on all sorts of grounds, Brexit certainly one, but not the only. All we can say is that Theresa May did not win the endorsement for her approach that she sought.
D4. ‘We will lose Drs due to Brexit’.
But this will be offset by more applications for UK medical licences for medics from outside the EU, according to the GMC.
Yes, we already are losing EU27 national doctors, you think this is good? Offset by non-EU doctors? How are you going to square that with your tougher rules on immigration? Why is this a good thing? Why can’t we keep the excellent professionals we already have?
D5 ‘The EU is pooled sovereignty, not lost sovereignty’
Semantics. You say lost sovereignty, I say pooled sovereignty. What you are really arguing is that power should all be concentrated in a single, national tier of government, which I dispute. See http://ottocr.at/british-federalism-and-english-exceptionalism-fear-and-loathing-in-west-lothian/