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Analysis

16 Brexiter promises that are emptier than ever

by InFacts | 05.06.2017

Leave campaigners tempted voters with a Brexit wonderland. Nearly a year after the referendum, it was clearly a deceit, despite the presence in government of three leading Brexiters – Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox.

(1) £350 million for the NHS

Vote Leave’s battle bus said: “We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.”

Brexit could well mean the NHS has less not more money to spend, and suffers a shortage of doctors and nurses as vital EU staff leave the country.

(2) More money for farmers

“The UK government will continue to give farmers and the environment as much support – or perhaps even more – as they get now.” – George Eustice, Minister for Farming, Food and Marine Environment

Subsidies have only been guaranteed until the end of the next parliament. Farmers themselves, who backed Brexit enthusiastically, are losing confidence.

(3) More money in your pocket

“Wages will be higher for working people outside the EU… because pay will no longer be undercut by uncontrolled migration.” – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Gisela Stuart

Wages are in fact growing more slowly than inflation, meaning less money in people’s pockets.

(4) And scrapping VAT on fuel bills

“In 1993, VAT on household energy bills was imposed… When we Vote Leave, we will be able to scrap this unfair and damaging tax.” – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Gisela Stuart

Instead, Brexit has contributed to energy prices going up, with warnings of more increases to come. There’s no sign of VAT being scrapped.

(5) No EU beneficiaries left worse-off

“There is more than enough money to ensure that those who now get funding from the EU – including universities, scientists, family farmers, regional funds, cultural organisations and others – will continue to do so… We will continue to fund EU programmes in the UK until 2020” – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Priti Patel (amongst other signatories)

The chancellor Philip Hammond has guaranteed funding for EU-funded projects only until 2020.

(6) And no short-term economic disruption

“After we Vote Leave, there won’t be a sudden change that disrupts the economy.” – Boris Johnson, Gisela Stuart and Michael Gove

One of the biggest deceptions of all. The pound swiftly lost 15% against the dollar and euro, with an inevitable knock-on effect on prices.

(7) We’ll get brand new trade deals all over the world

“We would immediately be able to start negotiating new trade deals… which could enter into force immediately after the UK leaves the EU” – Chris Grayling

Not so fast, says the EU: trade talks will wait until after exit terms are completed. Britain is nowhere near signing a deal with another country.

(8) There’ll be no damage to trade with the EU

“Britain will have access to the Single Market after we vote leave… The idea that our trade will suffer because we stop imposing terrible rules such as the Clinical Trial Directive is silly.” Vote Leave

Access does not bring anything like the privileges and benefits of membership.

(9) Or our cooperation with the EU

“We will negotiate a UK-EU Treaty that enables us 1) to continue cooperating in many areas just as now (e.g. maritime surveillance), 2) to deepen cooperation in some areas (e.g. scientific collaborations and counter-terrorism)” – Vote Leave

If May carries out her threat to quit the EU with no deal at all, how will we cooperate on anything?

(10) Guaranteed in a treaty which we’ll sort out before 2020

“It will be possible to negotiate a new settlement with the EU, including a UK-EU free trade deal, by the next general election in May 2020” – Vote Leave

Theresa May is insisting on leaving the single market, so a new deal could take years. The Europeans don’t want to talk about trade until the divorce terms are settled.

(11) Which won’t have any obligation to follow EU laws

“The supremacy of EU law and the jurisdiction of the European Court over the UK will come to an end” Vote Leave

May’s hard line indeed aims to keep the ECJ out of UK affairs but, unless she compromises she’ll find it hard to secure a good trade deal, cooperation on security and settle the thorny issue of EU citizens’ rights.

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(12) We’ll cut immigration

“I wouldn’t set a time limit for it but the ambition would be to bring it down to tens of thousands.” – Michael Gove

The PM has however set a time limit, only for Brexit secretary David Davis to contradict her. Davis earlier admitted that immigration could sometimes rise.

(13) With a new system in place by 2020

“By the next general election, we will create a genuine Australian-style points based immigration system.” – Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Gisela Stuart

Just two months after taking over May scotched any idea of this.

(14) That doesn’t favour EU citizens

“Those seeking entry for work or study should be admitted on the basis of their skills without discrimination on the ground of nationality.” – Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Gisela Stuart

Curry restaurant owners say they were given false hope by the Brexit camp.

(15) No controls on the Irish border

“There will be no change to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.” – Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Gisela Stuart

Fears are growing there will have to be a hard border of some sort.

(16) And the union with Scotland will be stronger than ever

“If we vote to leave then I think the union will be stronger…  I think when we vote to leave it will be clear that having voted to leave one union the last thing people in Scotland wanted to do is to break up another.” – Michael Gove

Nicola Sturgeon wasted no time in exploiting Brexit to call for a second independence referendum.

Given their track record of making false promises, nobody should vote for a Brexiter on June 8.

An earlier version of this article first appeared last August

Edited by Alex Spillius