May’s letter to public riddled with untruths and half-truths

by Luke Lythgoe | 25.11.2018

Shortly before agreeing the Brexit deal with the EU, Theresa May published an 800-word letter to the nation, asking the public to get behind her deal. It’s riddled with untruths and half-truths. Here are the worst.

The deal is “in our national interest”

This deal will see the peace, power and prosperity we enjoy as EU members today diminished.

The deal works for “all of our people, whether you voted ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’”

Both hardline Brexiters and patriotic pro-Europeans have described May’s deal as “the worst of both worlds”. It is a deal that satisfies no one.

The deal will put “an end to vast annual payments to the EU”

We will be paying off the so-called “divorce bill” into the late 2020s.  We’ll end up paying £60-70 billion in the likely event that we extend the Brexit transition period. Even after that, we will continue to pay to access important EU programmes – getting worse value for money on them than we do now.

“We will be able to spend British taxpayers’ money on our own priorities, like the extra £394 million per week that we are investing in our long-term plan for the NHS”

Brexit will damage our economy. In particular, this deal does very little for our vast services sector. That means fewer taxes paid into government coffers, and less money to spend on public services than we would have had.

“We will take back control of our laws”

The UK will follow all EU laws – including new ones – without a say throughout the transition period. In any trade deal with the EU after that, member states want us to follow strict “level playing field” rules on social rights, the environment, state aid, tax and more.

“We will be an independent coastal state once again, with full control over our waters”

The EU is insisting on a deal that keeps “existing reciprocal access and quota shares” in order to avoid us ending up in the notorious “backstop” arrangement.

“UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU” will “have their rights protected”

Except that they won’t have the right to move between the 27 EU countries unless we can agree that in future talks.

“A free trade area will allow goods to flow easily across our borders”

They certainly won’t flow as easily as they do now. The deal misses the prime minister’s goal of “frictionless trade”. Companies will face more checks and paperwork at the border in future.

“Security co-operation will continue, so we can keep our people safe”

Except that this will only happen if we can nail that down in the next phase of the talks. So it’s not a done deal.

“Outside the EU, we will be able to sign new trade deals with other countries”

Our future relationship with the EU will be based on a “single customs territory” – essentially a customs union. Signing free trade deals with non-EU countries would be seriously restricted. But we also risk losing trade deals with 88 countries we already enjoy as EU members. These countries could get backdoor access to our market via the EU without us having access to their markets.

“With Brexit settled, we will be able to focus our energies on the many other important issues facing us here at home”

This deal does not settle Brexit. All the big questions about the future have been kicked down the road. We’ll be in tough negotiations with the EU for years to come, with political factions warring over what Brexit should look like for a long time yet. There will be no energy or money to focus on these vital issues.

The irony of the prime minister’s letter is that she is seeking to appeal to the people over the heads of MPs. The proper way to do that is to hold a People’s Vote – giving the public the chance to stay in the EU if they don’t like her deal.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

25 Responses to “May’s letter to public riddled with untruths and half-truths”

  • What the Tories fail to recognise is that they will take the full blame for this shambles!

    Demographics have already altered, and will continue to do so, with older “Leavers” dying and younger “Remainers” registering to vote.

    Just look the the ERG! What a bunch of yesterdays men! I wonder if the Tories would be as keen if they realised that “succeeding” in Brexit will put them into opposition for a generation, maybe more!

    I write as a seventy year old who voted remain and has been on three demos so far, so don’t blame me!


  • Can somebody please explain to me the point of this letter?
    It could only have a point if the people were to have a vote on her deal, and May insists that isn’t going to happen.

  • When I first read the letter, I was of a mind to try and write my repudiation of each point, but you have done it in a way that will reach a vast audience of largely open eyes and ears. Sadly those who believe the hype will never look beyond the happiness they feel today, continuing to live the dream. In the meantime, people like me and younger who have enjoyed the huge benefits of the EU for effectively the whole of my adult life will be robbed of much of it without so much as a care. We have been betrayed by a hypocritical and hypothetical dream scenario that will lead us into economic ruin and isolation. I have not been as sad as I am today since the sun rose on the day after the damned referendum. I’m lucky to be in my mid fifties and heading out of this country, I feel sorry for my kids and theirs. It is a travesty to suggest that the future is bright, it is as dark as it possibly ever could have been ☹️

  • We all know that Brexit is a mask to stop E.U. investigating the Crown Dependancy Tax Havens.
    U.K. should stay in Europe and not let the rich tax evaders get away with their crimes.

  • The Tories in their wisdom brought about this mess, it is therefore incumbent upon them to sort their mess out. This cobbled together Brexit is absolutely ridiculous, now this extremely devious woman is writing to the people in order to get support for her terrible deal. I am betting Murdoch, Dacre et al are advising her on Brexit, they do after all run the country.

  • We need to take a hard look at our country, we have problems in our schools, our police force is greatly underfunded,zero hour jobs, our precious NHS struggling to cope. Councils cutting essential public services due to government imposed austerity measures. The unemployed and disabled facing massive cuts to their benefits. The armed forces understaffed and without proper resources and equipment. The elderly stuck in hospitals or in inadequate care homes. Town centres with closed stores. In large industrial areas closed factories dereliction everywhere. The shipyards, the mines , the engineering centres have all been lost. We have had some inward investment with the motor vehicle sector but they located here to access the European markets. How long before they seek easier and tariff free locations. All of these and many other major issues will be made far worse if we leave the EU. A people’s vote is only the start of reversing the considerable damage to our people and country. If our politicians fail to deliver they will be severe consequences.

  • I have been a life long Tory and at 77 I will change my vote, how can they be part of this lie since “the peace in our time” was in our best interest. They will regret this as the biggest political blunder since the pole tax. The younger people will not forget this, no wonder Jeremy Corbyn has so many members joining his party. If you don’t listen to your membership you will be lost in obscurity.

  • I believe leaving the EU will result in the reunification of the island of Ireland, the independence of Scotland, the loss of Gibraltar to Spain. England & Wales will become a Disney Theme Park.

  • Absolutely agree with Hugo in huge irony that the PM is appealling to the British People whilst at the same time, not wanting to put their views on her deal to a vote. As was also pointed out by Laura Kuensburg, May kept claiming to know the views of the British people, either in terms of being bored and in wanting to stop EU migration.
    It comes back to the fundamental question, why are we doing this? What are the benefits of Brexit? What even are the benefits of a blue British passport as opposed to the existing red European one? Do people not understand the proposed passport will give people less rights and less freedoms?

  • Another great lie is Theresa May’s claim the end of the influence of the Court of Justice of the European Union which is actually mentioned sixty four times in the agreement. Arbitration is needed but as it stands would be a huge surrender of sovereignty to the EU: arbitration at an international, non-EU court would have been appropriate.

  • This deal is a disaster, even the president of France has pointedly told us he will use the crazy terms of the deal to keep us as a vassel state until he has plucked us like a goose.

  • It wasn’t Neil Kinnock who described Foot’s manifesto as the longest suicide note in history, it was Gerald Kaufman.
    And Hugh Jenkins can forget England and Wales becoming a Disney theme park. England may become that but we Welsh shall cast off the yoke of the English oppressor too. It is all those white flight English settlers in Wales who voted for Brexit that meant that Wales voted for this nonsense.

  • Can no one really see what is happening here ,they have no intention of us leaving but have given an illusion of choice, these people have been playing the long game a very long time and are much better at this.people really need to wake up

  • I have absolutely opposed this madness since before the dishonest and lunatic Referendum ever took place. I am 76 and count myself as a totally committed European citizen AND a UK citizen.
    This betrayal of the UK by these 19C Tories has been worst thing occurring in my lifetime since I was born in the middle of the Second World War. And, oh boy! am I going to remember them at the Ballot Box in the future!! So is my daughter and her friends in their 30s.
    It is VERY clear that the two post War power blocks, Russia and the USA, are trying to resurrect the Cold War stand off between them that coloured my 20s, 30s , 40s and 50s, including the terrifying week in 1962 when the US ad Russia finally had their confrontation . They want to return to those ‘good old days’. To do this, they have to break up the Post War Settlement made at Yalta creating a central Europe alliance of former enemies to stop them EVER devastating each other again. Hence the plot to break up the EU, the economic and social manifestation of that intention. Hence the bribery, the corruption and the meddling of creatures like Farage and Dacre and the US bunch around this utterly sinister drive to force my country to commit suicide. Hence the claim on both sides that ‘we can be great again’. ROT! IT MUST BE STOPPED!

  • Valerie,
    Absolutely right! Most of the current debate is fixated on the economic consequences (while certain government ministers struggle with the basics of geography) of Brexit and – though critical to our nation – are secondary to peace and security, which warranted hardly a mention during the referendum campaign, and remain to this day almost ignored.

  • Carpenters urgently required. Cabinet falling apart – Apply to 10 Downing Street asap. (Don’t bring tools – the building is full of them.)

  • May was and always will be a remainer. This was always her intention, make out she’s tried her best to get a good deal, and at the last minute say we aren’t going to get a better deal than this. Take it or leave it. This woman is a traitor sand even by Tory standards is a low life liar

  • Brexit is madness. It will inflict so much pain on the UK for generations to come. Please could someone tell me just one benefit it will bring? Boris and his gang are nothing but privileged dreamers dragging us , the normal citizen, with them into what will be our nightmare. They will have long disappeared by the time reality hits, having already cushioned themselves from the damage.
    Why is TM so against another vote – informed this time. If the Brexiteers are so convinced that to leave the EU, is the will of the people, what are they so afraid of ?
    As an OAP who voted to remain, I would be able to swallow leaving if I was able to believe that the majority really did want to leave, even now that we know more about the implications and that their decision remains the same, now that the lies and the fraud has come to light.
    Since when did democracy dictate that a decision made in the absence of the facts, rather that the fiction, be set in stone and the people not be allowed to change their minds.
    The only to heal this terrible division in our country it to allow another vote, this time with more facts available and less fantasy. Then whichever way the vote goes, at least we can accept that this is actually THE WILL OF THE POEPLE!

  • Hi, I watched the Andrew Marr show this morning, 02.12.18 and have the following question regarding statements made by Michael Gove surrounding the NI backstop arrangements, which surpeised me:
    ” The NI backstop is more uncomfortable for the EU than it is for the UK. The reason he gave was to say, that Britain would have unrestricted access to EU Markets but not having to pay a penny while in the backstop.” Is that true or is he lying again as usual?
    I’s appreciate any insights you may have. I must admit, I didn’t read all of the 585 pages and would like to confirm if Gove was right to say that or if it was at best government spin?