Brexit is a tower of lies swaying alarmingly - we must push it over
PUBLISHED: 10:38 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:48 11 April 2017
Lies, fibs, untruths... in the end the truth about quitting the EU will be revealed
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Ever told a lie?
Yeah, me too.
Not for quite a while, though. Because I’ll tell you what I haven’t done; while I’ve told a few lies in my time, something I’ve never done is got away with telling a lie.
Lying is, after all, an attempt to obscure reality, to hide the facts behind false facts of your own invention. But reality is still there; however flimsy or (temporarily) impenetrable your screen of misinformation may be, reality is always lurking behind it, and when that screen falls – as it will, whether after five minutes or a hundred years – your lies will be exposed.
When the screen starts slipping, you have a choice: come clean, apologise, take your lumps and try to make things right, or prop it up with more lies. Lies that are just as flimsy as the lie they’re told to protect (usually more so since they’re spoken in panicked haste rather than cunningly constructed) and, as such, must be bolstered with yet MORE lies until you’re teetering helplessly atop a vast, wobbling, lurching tower of deception. And when it finally crashes to earth, bringing you with it, it causes chaos and destruction which can take years to clean up, assuming it ever gets cleaned up at all.
The longer you leave it before owning up to the lie, the worse the outcome when the lie inevitably collapses. Brexit is a lie. A lie built upon, and propped up by, lies.
The referendum happened because nobody challenged the lies about the immigrants “swarming” into our nation (they weren’t); or the unelected Brusselcrats interfering in every aspect of British life (they’re not); or that we’re pumping money into the huge rapacious bureaucratic mechanism and getting nothing in return (we’re not); or that it was all part of some fiendish Franco/German plot to annexe all the member states into some vast federal Euro-Reich under whose jackboot the British people would forever squirm (it’s not, they’re aren’t and they wouldn’t).
Meanwhile, the nature of the referendum itself, as presented, was a lie; that it was about securing the future of the nation rather than securing the future of the Conservative party.
Even David Cameron’s pledge to hold the referendum was probably based on a lie; I can’t prove this but I’m relatively certain that he, like most pundits and observers, expected another coalition government after the 2015 election. As such, he could safely put the promise of a referendum in the manifesto, then after the election, drop the idea and blame the Liberal Democrats. Except the Lib Dems evaporated, as happens when a party’s base feels that they’ve betrayed them, and Cameron was forced to go through with it.
The referendum, brought about by lies, was then won by lies. The big famous lie on the bus about giving £350 million extra to the NHS; the lie that we’d gain instant control over our borders, the lie that we’d be happier, safer and better off, the lie that Nigel Farage actually cares about anything other than going on the telly. And of course Boris Johnson’s lie that his support for Leave was based on the available evidence and not a brazen attempt to get himself into pole position with the membership when Cameron stepped down in 2019.
Now we’re faced with yet more lies, lies being repeated to our faces. Like many of you, I’m sure, I felt a twinge of relief when the parliamentary Conservatives stitched up their post-Cameron leadership election (a trick Labour could do with learning, incidentally) and installed Theresa May. Not because of any great confidence in nor fondness towards May, just gratitude that it was her rather than any of the other paraded dingbats we might have been lumbered with.
In many respects one rather felt for the invidiousness of May’s position; elevated to office by a decision she herself had opposed. But her solution to this has been disingenuous to the point of bizarre.
I suppose this is what that level of cognitive dissonance can do to a keen mind. One remembers the effect a similar (albeit more catastrophic) dilemma had on Tony Blair: when his plan to moderate the hawkishness of Bush and Cheney by making himself the voice of calm and reason within the pro-war coalition backfired. The eyes glazed over, the ordinary-guy smile became a Joker-ish rictus, the conversational look-I-just-wanna-say-this tone of voice faded out, to be replaced by a Dalekesque ranting Tannoy. That’s the look (and sound) of a man who knows he’s defending the indefensible. May has been looking and sounding like that for the past few months.
It’s got to the point now where her lies have attained a “screw it, in for a penny...” recklessness. Not only is she breezily claiming that “the British people” are behind her in her endeavours, when literally everyone knows it was, at most, 52% of a 72% turnout – or roughly 37%, assuming nobody’s changed their minds in the meantime (and a lot of people have) – she actually stated during her speech on Article 50 day that Brexit would “strengthen the union” between the countries of the UK.
Now I’m sorry, but party loyalties aside, that’s just delusional. There are people living up trees in the Amazon basin who know that Brexit has fomented secessionism in Scotland to the point where, if no second ‘Indyref’ were to be granted by Westminster, Holyrood will most likely unilaterally call one, and that the result this time would not be a narrow ‘no’ but a resounding ‘hell yes’. And anyone paying attention knows that Brexit will exacerbate tensions in Northern Ireland to the point where the Troubles may kick off again, or even, as some have suggested, the Unionists decide that joining the Republic would be better than returning to such civil turmoil.
May could, as politicians are wont to do, have skirted around the issue. But to claim outright that Brexit will strengthen the Union when all available evidence and reason suggests it will sunder it forever; that’s not optimism, that’s insanity.
The longer you leave it before owning up to a lie, the worse the outcome when reality comes. Right now, we’re in a chalet at the bottom of an alp blithely sipping glüwein while an avalanche of reality barrels down the mountainside, if that’s not too European a metaphor.
Brexit is a lie, and the tower of lies that has been constructed over the last nine months to support and sustain that lie is swaying alarmingly. The best thing now would be to push the damn thing over in a controlled demolition before it gets high enough to do irreversible damage when it falls.
Keep moaning. Keep shouting.
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Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.Become a supporter