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Leave camp loves to shoot messenger not message

by Rachel Franklin | 21.04.2016

The Leave camp has responded to Barack Obama’s imminent visit to Britain by accusing him of hypocrisy – not addressing the arguments the US president is expected to make about why America values our EU membership.

This isn’t an isolated case of shooting the messenger not the message. Instead of rebutting points made by pro-European voices, the sceptics frequently accuse them of scaremongering and meddling.

For example:

On Obama’s visit to the UK

“A piece of outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy” Boris Johnson

After the IMF warned how Brexit could harm the economy

“Consistently wrong in past forecasts about the UK and other countries” Vote Leave

When a CBI survey showed members wanted to stay in EU

“Consistently misrepresented the views of business” Matthew Elliott, Vote Leave chief executive

After a similar survey by the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation

“Does not speak for British business” Vote Leave

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When French economy minister Emmanuel Macron said Brexit could jeopardise cooperation with UK on migration

“Blackmail” David Davis MP

Following actress Emma Thompson’s call for the UK to remain in EU

“Overpaid Leftie luvvie” Stewart Jackson MP  

Finally, Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave’s campaign director, came up with a torrent of ad hominem attacks in his evidence yesterday to parliament:

  • The Bank of England and its governor, Mark Carney, are “scaremongering”
  • Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are bribing Brussels
  • The Treasury is incompetent, while its officials are “charlatans squeezing snake oil from economic models”.

The prevalence of the Leave camp’s practice of attacking the person not the argument suggests it is not confident in its counter-arguments.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

One Response to “Leave camp loves to shoot messenger not message”

  • President Barack Obama’s view that Britain must stay in the EU or end up in the “back of the cue” of nations begging for one-offs with the US confirms on old and enduring truth and reveals a new one:

    1) 71 years after WW2, it still takes a US President to sort out the Europeans with frank talk about the facts of life. The view from Washington is that Europeans are OK, but they need a nanny. Or they’ll wander off unaccompanied.

    2) Obama has redefined the “special relationship.” It is special only if the UK stays in the EU. Britons are keen to believe their special relationship with Washington was much more than trans-Atlantic trade and security. In US it really isn’t. For Britain, the “back of the cue” is only a referendum away.

    Robert Wielaard
    Heverlee, Belgium