Anti-Brexit agitators need to stop rewriting history
It’s become commonplace in political debate and media discussions of no deal to assume and assert that during the EU referendum almost everyone assumed there’d be a “deal”. Earlier this week this claim was put to Dominic Raab in a Today Programme interview. Last night Newsnight had an entire debate based around this premise. But it simply isn’t true at all, and media commentators and politicians should not be allowed to claim, unchallenged, that it is.
What does “no deal” mean? It means there will be no “Withdrawal Agreement”, that is to say, no new treaty with the EU covering the rights of EU citizens, the financial settlement, the Irish border, and a range of other issues including “non-regression” of social, environmental and labour legislation and “geographical indications” (eg “Scotch” or “Parma Ham”). So, did everyone assume there’d be such a Withdrawal Agreement Treaty during the EU Referendum?
The answer’s pretty obviously no. Indeed, I’m not aware of a single interview by any prominent Leave campaigner predicting or promising that if we voted to leave the EU there’d be a Withdrawal Agreement treaty covering these or similar topics. I don’t know of a single Leave voter that assumed, at the time, that there’d be such a treaty and I think I can safely assert that not one of the 17.4 million people who voted to Leave the EU did so conditionally on the assumption that such a Withdrawal Agreement treaty would be made.
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