…a phrase oft-repeated by Theresa May and others in HMG, usually when they are about to obfuscate. In politics complete clarity rarely serves the speaker’s purpose, whichever party they belong to.
This blogger would like to be absolutely clear just who promised what about Brexit before the vote. Just so that everyone else is clear about who is culpable when it goes awry and those slippery politicos get nailed, or, indeed, we know who to congratulate when we make a great success of it all ( ho hum). Already, however, we see the start of the disavowals. So, on the day when May meets Juncker to agree the way forward ( or not ) in the Brexit negotiations, the Clarity series of blogs begins, which looks at specific issues, such as the Northern Ireland/Eire border question, how easy it would be to leave the EU, what monetary savings would be made and what form our exit should take. The aim is to document just who said what and, by the by, to add to the gaiety of nations.
My methodology uses evidence ( strange, I know ) from media outlets, preferably established news media, like the BBC, online versions of the printed press and some online fora ( though some of these are, as we now realise, of dubious provenance so I will err on the side of caution ). I will show who said what before the vote and compare it with what they have said since. I might even refer to experts ( those whom the British people have had enough of ). Sources will be identified, so readers can see whence the information comes. I will up-date the articles as the situation changes.
I will, I have no doubt, miss some excellent examples, so if readers know of specific statements by high-profile politicians or their political cheerleaders, please send them in as each ‘subject’ is dealt with. Please use the comment box or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To begin, for the merriment of us all, one or two quotes about the referendum itself.
Most famously, my absolute favourite. Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP saying on polling day that ‘In a 52 – 48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way’. He believed at the time that Brexit would lose the vote, narrowly. In fact this was reversed and Brexit won by roughly that margin and Farage claimed an overwhelming victory. He has since branded those who seek another vote ‘Remoaners‘.
Boris Johnson, now Foreign Secretary, stated on 13th January 2016, six months before the Referendum ‘I won’t front the fight to quit the EU‘. Having had a change of mind he later said of his decision to head ‘Leave’, in an article on the web-site Conservative Home, that ‘a door has magically opened in our lives. We can see the sunlit meadows beyond.‘ Many people believed the door he was looking at was that of No. 10 Downing Street, a belief voiced by his own Cabinet colleague Amber Rudd ( now Home Secretary ) during a TV debate.
I’ll stop now, but, if you like to see hypocrisy and mendacity in their full glory, from which ever side of the debate, watch out for more ‘Let me be clear…..’ blogs.
N.B. Since writing this article I have seen the Guardian article by Dan Roberts, which does a similar thing, though focusing on the Brexit divorce bill. Apologies for any duplication.