There seems to be a belief in England and Wales that the moral duty of voters is now to accept the result of the EU referendum and make the best of it. This in a referendum arrived at by mendacity. That it was so is not just my opinion, for it has been admitted, sometimes cheerfully, by the main leave leaders themselves.
To take only one example, the slogan “Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week” on the leave campaign’s posters, and “We send the EU £350 million a week – let’s fund our NHS instead” emblazoned on their battle bus. The £350 million was a statistic that the independent UK Statistics Authority said early in the campaign was not true. Everybody and their dog knew it wasn’t true.
After the result was in, on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, June 26th, former minister and leave advocate Iain Duncan Smith called Vote Leave’s £350 million pledge to the NHS an “extrapolation” Not true then.
Asked by ITV’s Good Morning Britain whether he could guarantee that the supposed £350m that was sent to the EU would now go to the NHS, Nigel Farage said: “No. I can’t, I would never have made that claim.’ He stood with it right through the campaign. You can read it if you like in the Telegraph, not exactly a left-leaning, pro-remain paper.
‘£350 million a week extra for the NHS’ only ‘an aspiration,’ said Vote Leave campaigner Chris Grayling on ITVs Good Morning Britain. He had supported it as a fact shortly before. A lie then.
“We can take back the £350 million we give to the EU every week,” Michael Gove said on the BBC Radio 4 programme Today. Afterwards he said, “They weren’t promises, just a series of possibilities.” Lies then.
After the result was in, in an interview with News at Ten presenter Tom Bradby it was suggested to Boris Johnson that the true figure was more like £161m. Johnson said happily that ‘Yes. That’s so. We get part of it back.’ Yes, that figure I touted all over the country was lie.
Is there anybody, anybody, who can deny that voters were knowingly lied to? Lie after lie after lie. Every promise of the leave party was a lie. Every single one.
If you think there is a moral imperative to go with a referendum, a device that has no legal standing in any case, arrived at in this fashion, then we have different ideas about what constitutes a moral imperative. The moral imperative is to deny the triumph of mendacity. The moral imperative is to do what is best for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to do all you can to prevent harm, not facilitate it.
And rolling over with a ‘let’s make up and make the best of it’ attitude is doing just that.