List of Leave Campaign Lies
Brexit: Facts vs. Fear
How a mythical EU dragon was conjured up and the striking truth behind it all
“Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market”
Before the referendum Brexiters were falling over themselves to offer many diverse options for our relationship with the EU. No they’ve won, it’s out at all costs
Dial M for Mueller
Hacking, data misuse, illegal financing and potential interference in the EU referendum
“The UK can refuse to pay the EU divorce bill”
As part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has signed up to pay a Brexit Divorce Bill of approximately £39 billion. Hardline Brexiteers are threatening the EU that if they don’t get the deal they wish for, then they will refuse to pay up. However, the EU divorce bill covers existing commitments made by the UK while it was a member of the EU and it is bound by law to pay for them. It is a lie to suggest otherwise. Let alone being the worst way to start a new relationship with our largest trading partner and the rest of the world, which country would sign up to any agreement with one that doesn’t keep its commitments or pay its debts? Source: FullFact
“MPs overwhelmingly voted for Article 50, meaning that if we don’t get an agreement after 2 years, we leave without one”
Technically MPs voted to give Theresa May the power to notify the EU of the UK’s decision to start the Article 50 process. They did not vote to start the Article 50 process themselves. However, it is not unreasonable to hold the belief that a majority of MPs consented to starting the Article 50 process.
However, this does not mean that they voted for ‘no deal’. It is often ignored by Leave campaigners that the text of Article 50 allows for the extension of the two year negotiating period by mutual consent between the UK and the EU.
In the last expression of wishes by the UK public, the 2017 general election, 54% of voters voted for parties that were against ‘no deal’. And there is no majority in parliament for ‘no deal’ either.
“We thought we were only joining a free trade zone”
One of the most frequently repeated lies about Europe is to say that, when we joined the EU, ‘we were told we were only joining a free-trade area’ and ‘no-one told us that it was more than that’.
“Whatever the economic arguments, the House will realise that, as I have repeatedly made clear, the Government’s purpose derives above all from our recognition that Europe is now faced with the opportunity of a great move forward in political unity and that we can — and indeed must — play our full part in it.” – Prime Minister Harold Wilson, presenting the reasons for British membership of the EEC in 1967
And, in the run-up to the British referendum, the government’s own published documents spell this out even more clearly. The White Paper of 1971 spoke of “an ever closer union among European peoples”, an objective “to which this country can wholeheartedly subscribe”. It said that “what is proposed is a sharing and enlargement of individual national sovereignties in the general interest”; “Europe united would have the means […] which Europe divided has lost”.
Most tellingly, the government of the day spelled out clearly that “if the political implications of joining Europe are at present clearest in the economic field, it is because the Community is primarily concerned with economic policy. But it is inevitable that the scope should broaden as member countries’ interests become harmonised […] What is proposed is a sharing and an enlargement of individual national sovereignties in the general interest”. Source: Richard Corbett
“We send £350m a week to Brussels”
Perhaps the biggest lie of the Leave Campaign – we do not send anywhere near that number ‘to Brussels’ – see the full story here
“It’s the will of the people”
It is no longer valid for Brexiteers to claim that it’s ‘the will of the people’ to leave the EU. Not that it was ever really known what the will of the people actually was. With all the various promises and claims made by the Leave campaigns, often at odds with each other, there has never been a consensus of opinion.
A recent poll of 20,000 UK voters by Channel 4 by Survation (the company that correctly predicted the 2016 EU referendum) found a considerable swing in all areas to remain with the most sizeable swings in post-industrial areas that voted most heavily to leave in 2016. Source: Channel 4
“We can’t stop Turkey joining the EU and coming to Britain”
Campaigners for Brexit claimed that the UK government was trying to fast-track Turkey’s ascension to the EU and that 75 million Turks would soon be free to live and work in the EU (and would, of course, head straight to the UK). This is nonsense. Any country has to adopt and enforce all the current EU rules before it can be admitted to the bloc. EU rules are divided into 35 policy areas, and in 10 years Turkey only managed one: science and research. In most other areas it has not even made a start. It would be impossible for Turkey to implement all the EU’s rules in the next 10 years, and given their political situation currently it is not at all likely they will ever become a member of the EU. As an EU member the UK has the power to veto their ascension anyway. Source: BBC Reality Check.
“We can’t stop a European army”
The UK has always been against a European Army and has said it would never agree to one. As a member of the EU we have a veto on the creation of a European Army so even if every other member state wanted one (which they don’t) we could always block it. Source: FullFact.
The irony is that since the referendum, and Britain’s subsequent loss of influence, voices are growing in the EU for closer harmony within national armies and even the formation of an EU army, in part thanks to Donald Trump’s approach to NATO funding. So, in a delicious irony and an unintended consequence of Brexit, we could well end up in having an EU army on our doorstep.
“We are liable to pay eurozone bailouts”
The UK can be asked for financial support for Eurozone countries but is guaranteed its money back.The UK contributes to a fund which could be used to channel emergency funding to Eurozone countries, but an EU law made in 2015 ensures that the UK would be “immediately and fully compensated” for any losses caused by a Eurozone member. This protection was reasserted in the UK government’s EU renegotiation deal in February 2016, which also states that the UK will be reimbursed if the EU’s general budget is used to support emergency funding for Eurozone members. Source: Fullfact.
“The UK rebate can be changed against our will”
The level of the UK rebate is decided every seven years, as part of the EU’s long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which is negotiated by the EU leaders. The long-term budget determines EU spending levels and priorities and it has to be approved unanimously by all 28 EU leaders. The UK has a veto over the process that would scrap or reduce it. Source: BBC Reality Check.
“The EU is run by unelected bureaucrats”
The European Commission doesn’t make laws, it is the EU’s civil service. Like the UK’s civil service it is not directly elected. It works with the Elected Heads of State (eg. Our Prime Minister is one) in the European Council to make policy proposals, which are then written, debated, amended and passed (or rejected) by elected national governments and directly-elected Members of the European Parliament. Commissioners are appointed by Member States and are themselves accountable to the elected European Parliament, which elects its President, approves its appointment and can dismiss it by a vote of no confidence.
European Council decides on the EU’s overall direction and political priorities – but does not pass laws. It comprises the elected Heads of State of EU Member States (generally Prime Ministers or Presidents). The European Commission proposes laws in keeping with the direction set by the European Council, but does not pass laws. The proposals go to the EU Parliament to be voted on by the directly elected MEPs. There are 28 commissioners, one for each EU country nominated by the EU countries, each nominee having to appear before the EU Parliament to explain their vision and answer questions.
The EU Parliament is directly elected by voters across the EU and is responsible for deciding the passing of EU laws. UK currently has 73 MEPs elected under proportional representation methodology meaning that all views are respected as opposed to the UK’s older “first past the post system” where up to half the voter’s views may be ignored. Elections take place every 5 years, the number of MEPs relate to the population of each country. The EU Parliament has scrutiny of all EU institutions, elects the EU Commissions President, and can instigate a motion of censure requiring the Commission to resign.
The Council of the European Parliament comprises government ministers from each member state. It negotiates and adopts EU laws, together with the European Parliament, based on proposals from the European Commission, coordinates EU countries’ policies, develops the EU’s foreign & security policy, based on European Council guidelines. The Council of the European Parliament concludes agreements between the EU and other countries or international organisations and adopts the annual EU budget – jointly with the European Parliament.
“We can’t control our borders in the EU”
Unlike most other EU member states—and some countries outside the EU—the UK is not part of the Schengen passport-free area because it hasn’t signed the Schengen agreement. This means it can retain border controls. But the UK does operate the Schengen Information System (SIS) which allows the UK to exchange information with Schengen countries for the purposes of cooperating on law enforcement. The EU’s member countries, including the UK, collectively control the EU’s external borders through their own management of their national borders. The British government retains full control over its own border controls. Travellers who hold EU passports can’t cross the UK border without having their passport or identity checked, and the same applies for travellers from non-EU countries. Source: InFacts / FullFact
“Refugees arriving in the EU can get passports and come over here”
If refugees end up staying in Europe permanently they can acquire long-term resident status – subject to meeting certain conditions – as per the 2003 EU Directive on the status of non-EU nationals who are long-term residents. This gives them the same rights as that of EU member state’s nationals in certain areas, although it does not bestow an absolute right to free movement on par with EU nationals. However, the UK, along with Ireland and Denmark, are exempt from this directive. This means that the UK does not have to allow non-EU nationals who are long-term residents of other member state into the UK if it does not want to. Source: EU / Open Europe
“Health tourism costs us billions”
VoteLeave says UK gives £5.8bn more to EU countries for medical costs than it gets back, which campaigners say means “health tourism from the EU has cost us billions.” – VoteLeave Chair and Labour MP, Gisela Stuart, April, 2016.
“EU needs UK trade more than vice versa”
Britain is powerful – but the EU is more powerful than we are. On paper – this should not be surprising, yet no politician, of any stripe, would ever dare say it. But the facts speak for themselves: We are 65 million of a bloc of 450 million. Ours is a $2.9trn (£2.2trn) economy, they are $19trn (£14.6trn) They represent 44% of our exports. We, just 9% of theirs. They are 27 – we are one. The impact of a no deal (as all the studies show) would be considerable but they have a crucial advantage: they are able to spread the risk and burden. For that reason, the same studies show, it would hurt us far more. We have nowhere else to turn. Source: Sky News
“To say that Mr Hannan’s statistics should be taken with a grain of salt is an understatement. While both sides in the referendum campaign use statistics “as a drunk uses a lamppost” (for support, rather than illumination), Mr Hannan has a habit of simply inventing them. Not only does he not check them, but, considerably worse, he doesn’t correct his errors, even after they’ve been pointed out.” Source: National Institute of Economic & Social Research
“Auditors still refuse to sign off the accounts”
There is a persistent myth (reliably recycled every year by UK newspapers) that the European Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the EU’s accounts, but this is false. In the most recent audit year (2014), the Court gave a clean bill of health to the accounts for the seventh time in a row. This means every euro spent from the EU budget was duly recorded in the books and correctly accounted for. In the auditors’ own words, they ‘signed off’ the accounts.
“The auditors give a clean opinion on the accuracy and reliability of the accounts when they present a true and fair view of the EU’s finances and follow the rules of financial reporting. This has been the case since 2007.”
“Common Agricultural Policy adds £400 to British food bills”
The CAP is wasteful, and should be reformed or abolished. But it is disingenuous for Out campaigners to pretend there is some post-Brexit pot of gold on offer when there isn’t. Alan Matthews, professor of European agricultural policy at Trinity College, Dublin says that the CAP delivers an increase of only 1 per cent in your shopping bill. Source: InFacts
“British steel suffers because of the EU”
No, it was the UK government that killed British Steel. The Government has been accused of “failing to protect” British steel by blocking EU plans to impose tougher sanctions on “aggressive” Chinese steel dumping while the industry stands on the brink of collapse. EU Council working party papers seen show the UK is one of 14 countries that, as early as 2014, were seeking to block the EU from axing the so-called “lesser duty” rule, which could allow increased tariffs to be placed on cheap imports. Source: The Independent.
“Irish border will be unaffected by Brexit”
Good grief – anyone following the shambollic negotiations by the UK government and the jaw-dropping naivety of the Leave campaign knows the answer now.
“UK can’t deport EU criminals”
Despite the fact that EU citizens enjoy the right to move to and live in other member states, the UK government has recently ramped up efforts to deport them. In the year ending June 2017, 5,301 EU citizens were deported from the UK, a 20% rise compared to the previous year. So yes, we can and do deport EU citizens. However, as you would expect, human rights do come into play and criminals have human rights too, so EU regulations do allow some protect to all EU citizens. Source: The Conversation / UK Government.
“UK is always outvoted in the European Parliament”
The figures show this isn’t anywhere near true. In fact, we almost always win votes through finding common ground with other countries. Let’s look first at the Council of Ministers, which votes on every piece of EU legislation. Between 2009 and 2015, Britain was on the winning side 86.7% of the time. (It was 97% in the preceding period – the levels of disagreement rose after the 2010 change of government!) Indeed, the majority of these decisions were adopted with a unanimous consensus, meaning everyone agreed and nobody was on the losing side. Source: Richard Corbett / Guardian.
“60-70% of laws come from EU”
Simply counting laws does not consider that some laws have more impact than others. Quoted figures have varied wildly from under 10% to 70%. It’s possible to justify many of these, depending on which definition of ‘UK law’ you look at, but those at the higher end count EU rules that aren’t really laws in any meaningful sense. Source: FullFact
“Renationalisation of industries is impossible”
This claim has been made about several different public services in the UK, but it is not true. In fact, the treaty that forms the EU’s most fundamental law (TFEU article 345) explicitly protects the right for EU countries to nationalise industries, and states that no EU rules can ever constrain each country’s choice of public or private ownership. Source: Richard Corbett / EU
A further huge aggregation of Brexit Lies can be found and brexitlies.com
“Britain was lied to when we joined the EU”
“Back in the Seventies, Edward Heath assiduously created the utterly misleading impression that belonging to the ‘Common Market’ would entail no loss of national sovereignty.” Columnist Melanie Philips has asserted that Edward Heath “knew full well that if the British public understood the implications for national self-government, they would never agree to membership of the European club.”
Echoing her, commentator William Cash, son of Conservative MP Sir William Cash, attacked “the treachery and political deceit of what really went on in the political backrooms on London and Brussels…it is clear that our senior politicians knew more than they were letting on about the sovereignty implications when they negotiated to join the EEC.”
SDP founder David Owen agreed from the Labour side: “Of course that means that one gives up sovereignty, and a lot of the debate in this House has been focused upon sovereignty, and rightly so, because this is a central matter to many of the people who fundamentally do not wish us to go into Europe. They do not wish to give up any measure of sovereignty..
“They do not wish to give up any power that we exercise as a nation and put ourselves into the decision structure of other nations because it involves compromise. It involves not always getting one’s own way. It is, however, foolish to try to sell the concept of the E.E.C., and not admit that this means giving up some sovereignty. Of course it does, and I believe it rightly does. I believe this is one of the central appeals of it.”
Indeed, the Daily Telegraph reported of the October 1971 debate: “Continuing a trend, MPs turned more and more to talking about the issue of sovereignty and tended to be rather brief on economic topics. It has now got through to a lot more MPs that sovereignty is a vital issue.”
Where there was disagreement was over what pooling sovereignty meant in practice. Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath argued that the “Brexiteer” conception of sovereignty was too narrow and legalistic: “It is right that there should have been so much discussion of sovereignty … If sovereignty exists to be used and to be of value, it must be effective. We have to make a judgment whether this is the most advantageous way of using our country’s sovereignty.”
Source: The Telegraph
“We will be safer and better off outside the EU”
I’ll be on @LBC at 8.30 tomorrow morning discussing UKIP’s vision for a more prosperous UK outside of the EU, free to trade globally”
“We would be better off out”
“About to debate First Minister of Wales on EU membership & why we would be better off out”
Source: Nigel Farage via Twitter
“I never promised that it would be a huge success… I never said it would be a beneficial thing to leave and everyone would be better off, just that we would be self-governing.”
Nigel Farage, LBC Radio 29 May 2018
Brexit Fake News
Bravo to Tom Pride for his efforts compiling this ignoble list of Brexit fake news courtesy of the UK Press. The sad thing is that this is but a small selection from 2003 to 2006. Sadder still is that the EU shouldn’t be forced to keep a record of the UK press’s deliberate lies and disinformation. Visit List of EU Myths to see the full extent of UK Press and its Fake News war. Anyone would think that the UK press barons have something to gain from leaving the EU. (Link to EU Anti Tax Avoidance Directive)
EC regulations to ban playgrounds – Daily Express
Rolling acres outlawed by Brussels – The Telegraph
EU to scrap British exams – Sunday Express
Obscure EU law halting the sale of English oak seeds – Mail on Sunday
EU may try to ban sweet and toy ads – The Times
EU to tell British farmers what they can grow – Daily Mail
EU ‘Bans Boozing’ – Daily Star
Light ale to be forced to change its name by Eurocrats – Daily Mail
EU fanatics to be forced to sing dire anthem about EU ‘Motherland’ – The Sun
British apple trees facing chop by EU – The Times
EC plan to ban noisy toys – Sunday People
EU to ban bagpipes and trapeze artists – The Sun
Children to be banned from blowing up balloons, under EU safety rules – Daily Telegraph
Straight cucumbers – The Sun
Curved bananas banned by Brussels bureaucrats – The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express
Brussels bans barmaids from showing cleavage – The Sun, Daily Telegraph
Rumpole’s wig to scrapped by EU – Mail on Sunday
Church bells silenced by fear of EU law – Daily Telegraph
Motorists to be charged to drive in city centres under EU plans – Daily Telegraph
EU to stop binge drinking by slapping extra tax on our booze – The Sun
Brandy butter to be renamed ‘brandy spreadable fat’ – The European
British loaf of bread under threat from EU – Daily Mail
Truckers face EU ban on fry-ups – The Sun
EU to ban Union Flag from British meat packs – Daily Express
EU seeks to outlaw 60 dog breeds – Europa News Agency
Double-decker buses to be banned – Daily Telegraph
EU bans eating competition cakes – Timesonline
Now EU officials want control of your CANDLES – Daily Express
21-gun salutes are just too loud, Brussels tells the Royal Artillery – Mail on Sunday
Brussels threatens charity shops and car boot sales – Daily Mail
Plot to axe British number plates for standardised EU design – Daily Express
Women to be asked intimate details about sex lives in planned EU census – Daily Express
British cheese faces extinction under EU rules – PA News
EU meddlers ban kids on milk rounds – The Sun, The Telegraph
British chocolate to be renamed ‘vegelate’ under EU rules – Daily Mail
EU to ban church bells – Daily Telegraph
British film producers warn of new EU threat to industry – The Independent
Kilts to be branded womenswear by EU – Daily Record
EU to ban double decker buses – Daily Mail
Cod to be renamed ‘Gadus’ thanks to EU – Daily Mail
Brussels to restrict drinking habits of Britain’s coffee lovers – Daily Express
EU responsible for your hay fever – Daily Mail, The Times
Condom dimensions to be harmonised – Independent on Sunday
EU wants to BAN your photos of the London Eye – Daily Express
Corgis to be banned by EU – Daily Mail
EU forcing cows to wear nappies – Daily Mail
Eurocrats to ban crayons and colouring pencils – The Sun
Smoky bacon crisps face EU ban – Sunday Times
EU outlaws teeth whitening products – Daily Mail
Domain names – ‘.uk’ to be replaced by ‘.eu’ – Daily Mail
Brussels to ban HGV drivers from wearing glasses – The Times
New eggs cannot be called eggs – Daily Mail
EU to ban selling eggs by the dozen – Daily Mail
UK to be forced to adopt continental two pin plug – Daily Star, Daily Mail
EU targets traditional Sunday roast – Sun on Sunday
English Channel to be re-named ‘Anglo-French Pond’ – Daily Mail
Brussels to force EU flag on England shirts – Daily Mail
EU orders farmers to give toys to pigs – The Times
Firemen’s poles outlawed by EU – Daily Mail
Euro ban on food waste means swans cannot be fed – The Observer
Noise regulations to force football goers to wear earplugs – The Sun
Traditional Irish funeral under threat from EU – Daily Telegraph, The Times
EU to ban high-heel shoes for hairdressers – Daily Express
Commission to force fishermen to wear hairnets – Daily TelegraphBrussels to ban herbal cures – Daily Express
Bureaucrats declare Britain is “not an island”– the Guardian
EU bid to ban life sentences for murderers – Daily Express
New EU map makes Kent part of France – Sunday Telegraph
EU tells Welsh how to grow their leeks – The Times
EU to ban lollipop ladies’ sticks – News of the World
EU plot to rename Trafalgar Square & Waterloo station – Daily Express
UK milk ‘pinta’ threatened by Brussels – The Sun
EU bans ‘mince’ pies – Daily Mail
Eurocrats say Santa must be a woman – The Sun
Now EU crackpots demand gypsy MPs – Daily Express
Brussels to outlaw mushy peas – The Sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Times
Brussels says shellfish must be given rest breaks on journeys – The Times
Pets must be pressure cooked after death – Sunday Telegraph
EU puts speed limit on children’s roundabouts – Daily Express
2-for-1 bargains to be scrapped by EU – Daily Mirror
EU madness: chat up bar girl and pub will be fined – Daily Star
Queen to be forced to get her own tea by EU – The Sun
EU tells women to hand in worn-out sex toys – The Sun
British rhubarb to be straight – The Sun
EU to ban rocking horses – The Sun
Scotch whisky rebranded a dangerous chemical by EU – Daily Telegraph
Brussels ban on pints of shandy – The Times
“High up” signs to be put on mountains – BBC
Euronotes cause impotence – Daily Mail
EU to ban under 16-year-olds from using Facebook – Daily Mail
Strawberries must be oval – The Sun
EU orders swings to be pulled down – Daily Express
Tea bags banned from being recycled – BBC
British lav to be replaced with Euro-loo – The Sun
Unwanted Valentine’s cards to be defined as sexual harrasment – Daily Telegraph
Bosses to be told what colour carpets to buy by EU – Daily Star
EU says British yoghurt to be renamed ‘Fermented Milk Pudding’ – Sunday Mirror
EU to ban zipper trousers – The Sun
Demonizing minorities for political gain
Straight out of the Nazi propaganda playbook, right wing tabloid newspapers including the Daily Mail, The Sun and Daily Express have consistently fanned the flames of religious and racial intolerance, creating an ideal environment of low level hatred and distrust of immigrants for the Leave campaigns to provide their simplistic and largely impossible solution.
Have your say!
It’s our intention to ensure this site is accurate and well sourced. If you see any errors or have additional information to add please get in touch using the form