‘Get Brexit done’ is Johnson’s biggest lie

by Hugo Dixon | 24.11.2019

The Prime Minister pretends that he’ll “get Brexit done” if he wins the election. That’s the slogan on the side of his bus – and on his manifesto. Like the slogan on the side of his bus during the referendum, it is a big lie.

Here are eight reasons why voting for the Tories won’t put an end to Brexit. 

Surrender divorce deal

Boris Johnson boasts about his “great new deal”. In fact, his Withdrawal Agreement is a “surrender deal” which gives the EU pretty much everything it wants. What’s more, it only covers our divorce. Talks on our future relationship will only start in earnest if and when we leave.

To extend or not to extend?

If Johnson wins the election, he will have to decide whether to extend the “transition”. To cushion the blow of Brexit, he has agreed that we will have access to the EU’s market until the end of next year. But we will then face the full force of the divorce unless the Prime Minister either delays our exit again or agrees a trade agreement in record time.

He says he won’t extend the transition in the manifesto. So if he did, he would have to break this commitment. He would also have to agree financial terms with the EU. (See the Withdrawal Agreement, Article 132, paragraph 3). 

Observers think the cost would be at least £1 billion a month, with no money coming back to us. A deal on extending the transition has to be agreed by July 1. So much of the spring could be spent wrangling over whether to ask for a delay and how much to pay for it.

Fishy business

Johnson has agreed to try to reach a new fishing deal with the EU, covering “access to waters and quotas shares”, by July 1. (See the Political Declaration, paragraphs 73 and 74). 

It’s true that this is not a legally-binding deadline. But some countries including France care passionately about keeping access to our fishing grounds. They won’t let us move ahead with the main trade talks until they have got what they want. They also won’t give us an extension – if the Prime Minister does a u-turn on that – unless we agree on fishing. So lots of next spring will be spent arguing about that. 

Impossible ask

The Prime Minister wants a so-called Canada-style deal with the EU but without “political alignment”. This is what he promised in the infamous video which led to Nigel Farage standing down his Brexit Party candidates in half the country to give the Conservatives a free run. He repeats it in the manifesto. 

Forget for a moment that Canada has a far worse deal with the EU than we do. Johnson won’t be able to get even this second-rate agreement unless he follows lots of EU rules to ensure a “level playing field”. This is not conjecture. The Prime Minister himself has agreed to uphold standards on “state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change, and relevant tax matters”. (See the Political Declaration, paragraph 77).

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    The trouble with starting negotiations with an impossible ask is that it will take time even for somebody as expert at eating his words as Johnson to perform the required u-turn.

    Surrender trade deal

    Canada took seven years to agree its second-rate trade deal with the EU. The Prime Minister claims he can reach an agreement by the end of next year. The only way he can possibly do that is by again giving the EU everything it wants – signing up to another surrender deal.

    Crashing out ≠ getting Brexit done

    If Johnson doesn’t extend the transition and doesn’t get a trade deal, we’ll crash out of the single market at the end of next year. That will be so catastrophic for our economy that we’ll be desperate to get some access to the EU’s market. The early part of 2021 will be spent arguing over that.

    Other countries

    The EU accounts for half our trade. Deals we have with 70 or so other countries such as Canada and Japan by virtue of our EU membership account for another 12%. We will need years to copy them all – and they’ll have us over a barrel.

    Tory infighting

    There won’t just be wrangling between the Prime Minister and the EU. There will be endless infighting within the Conservative Party about whether to tough it out or surrender.

    As a result, day after day, we’ll wake up to news about Brexit. It’ll be like Groundhog Day.

    If you don’t want that, kick Johnson out of Downing Street. If you want our politicians to fix the country’s real problems rather than obsessing about Brexit, vote against the Tories on December 12. We’ll then get a new referendum and the chance to stop Brexit. After that, we’ll never have to hear about Brexit again.

    InFacts advises tactical voting in the coming election. Pro-Europeans should back the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Tories, so long as that candidate supports a new referendum.

    The article was updated to include the link to the manifesto and its commitments to not extending the transition and to no political alignment

    The headline was updated on December 3

    Edited by James Earley

    6 Responses to “‘Get Brexit done’ is Johnson’s biggest lie”

    • Time to put this on posters, saying “Johnson says” followed by “The reality is”. Fat red line at the bottom: Is Johnson perhaps telling you porkies?

    • I agree. We just aren’t exposing Johnson’s lies loudly enough. He is getting away with it. Corbyn is only campaigning on domestic issues. He does not focus on Brexit because he knows Johnson will ridicule him for being ‘neutral’ plus everyone knows he is Eurosceptic. If only Labour had a more dynamic pro Europe leader. Swinson is also ineffective and has moved her stance. From thinking she is the next PM in waiting she has wavered.
      So that leaves the Remain groups to expose Johnson’s lies. It has to be done over and over again in simple terms. Whether it can be done effectively on line I am not sure. It has to be there in print and headlines on TV and newspapers. At the moment, I fear that we are not reaching those who are not really committed to politics and are confused and tired of the whole wretched debacle. InFacts is excellent but it preaches to the converted. It’s the unconverted and ‘not sures’ we need to get at. A big bus would help but I don’t think we have the finances. So frustrating.

    • Maybe the answer is supporting Led By Donkeys. They produce posters and other media showing statements from members of the Conservative Party on Brexit and the EU. These compare and contrast statements made by the politicians and show their inconsistancy and hypocrisy.

    • Big business is complicit in the brexit debacle. Despite knowing full well how disastrous brexit will be the CBI, IoD, NFU etc have all rolled over. Now we have two big energy companies saying they’re transferring their HQs out of the UK because of Labour’s nationalisations plans. Come off it! The real reason is brexit but they won’t admit to it.

    • And perhaps the little fact that Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland (notably the latter) are increasingly looking at the fact that they play no role in the considerations re Brexit. They are very likely to feel betrayed by Whitehall and might well decide to leave the UK, after which they very likely re-apply to become members of the EU. That leaves the 52% to have to get out the iconic blue passport to even travel on their own green and pleasant island. And please don’t overlook the fact that hopping over to the other Union across the Atlantic is not going to be any easier. Don’t count on Trump to open his arms and soothe your mangled feelings; impeachment is getting more certain by the day now and further judicial action to clear up some of the things he did likely. At least America is waking up, hope that will be the case here too.