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Analysis

Vote Leave’s lying Facebook ads look even worse 2 years on

by Luke Lythgoe | 27.07.2018

MPs have published a bumper document of all Vote Leave’s Facebook ads during the referendum campaign. From claims about Turkish migrants to NHS spending, their lies haven’t aged well over two years of Brexit reality.

1. Turkey is joining!

Vote Leave referendum Facebook ad

Vote Leave/Facebook/Parliament

Some of the worst Vote Leave scaremongering focused on Turkish immigration. The claim was that Turkey was on the brink of joining the EU. Emphasis was repeatedly put on Turkey’s 76 million population, suggesting a huge wave of migration. But Ankara has been trying to join the EU for decades – at the current rate its projected accession date was around the year 3000. Since 2016 we’ve seen its president crackdown on opposition and the media, with EU talks now in the deep freeze.

2. Turkey is next to Iraq and Syria!

Vote Leave referendum Facebook ad

Vote Leave/Facebook/Parliament

Vote Leave got a second bite of the Turkey cherry when the EU granted visa-free travel to the border-free Schengen area for Turkish tourists and other short-term visitors in return for cooperation on the migration crisis. The campaign was quick to flag Turkey’s border with Iraq and Syria, heavily implying Syrians and Iraqis would be able to travel unchecked to the UK.

But the UK isn’t even a member of Schengen. Nevertheless Vote Leave’s graphics, in this case accompanied by a “save our NHS” banner, played up fabricated immigration concerns.

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3. £350 million a week for the NHS!

Vote Leave referendum Facebook ad

Vote Leave/Facebook/Parliament

The quintessential Vote Leave lie. The EU does not “take” £350 million every week, as InFacts explained repeatedly during the referendum. We have a rebate, lots of money is spent on UK projects and regional development, while the EU funds private enterprises, research institutions and our farmers.

Since the referendum it has become clear that Brexit will hit our economy, meaning less money for the NHS, not more. There is a “Brexit deficit” not a “Brexit dividend”, although Theresa May has drunk the Vote Leave kool aid.

4. EU immigration is crippling the NHS!

Vote Leave referendum Facebook ad

Vote Leave/Facebook/Parliament

Ignoring the speculative projection of “5.23 million more EU immigrants” by 2030, the link between EU citizens arriving and the strains on the NHS couldn’t be further from the truth. You’re more likely to be treated by an EU national rather than find yourself in the queue behind one – 7% of NHS nurses and 10% of doctors were born in other EU countries. Since the referendum vote we’ve seen a sharp decrease in EU healthcare professionals applying and an uptick in those leaving, aggravating the ongoing staffing crisis. Brexit is bad for our NHS.

5. We’re not making our laws!

Vote Leave referendum Facebook ad

Vote Leave/Facebook/Parliament

The Leave campaign liked to make out that “unelected bureaucrats” in Brussels were telling the UK what to do – as in this ad from BeLeave, a smaller campaign working with Vote Leave. But that’s not how the EU works. The big decisions are made by all 28 EU governments reaching agreement. Commissioners appointed by these same governments thrash out the details, and then have to get the approval of MEPs directly elected by citizens.

But the way Brexit is shaping up, we could well end up follow EU laws without a say on anything. May’s Chequers plan has us doing just that, and we might yet see further concessions to the EU. As EU members, the UK is a loud voice at the table, helping shape important issues facing the continent as a whole.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

17 Responses to “Vote Leave’s lying Facebook ads look even worse 2 years on”

  • This sort of behavior by the Leave Campaign is a direct threat to our democracy, all the more so when parliament delegates major monumental issues such as to leave or remain in the EU to the ” will of the people “. Parliament has lost control of the decision which can now be influenced by unscrupulous dishonest people pursuing their own personal ends. Party political debate such as we have been used to seeing in the past is one thing, what has been done by the Leave campaign is the very antithesis of what is required and expected in a parliamentary democracy.

    One can only hope that Parliament will be enlightened and courageous enough to draw the necessary conclusions from their analysis of these events and see that it never happens again and, who knows, perhaps declare the 2016 Referendum null and void.

  • I could not agree more. And even worse, the Brexiteers have never been able to face up to the facts that their campaign…not just the infamous £350M per week from the NHS from their resident liar…was based on organised, constructed lies and deceit.
    The excuse that Remainers organised a Project Fear, and that none of that has come true is not sufficient to justify what the Brexiteers did. And now the “will of the people” is the fig leaf used to prevent any discussion of the Referendum. The government and MPs seem afraid to tell the truth about the Referendum, so we continue with this charade as the best of a bad set of alternatives, on the basis that it will be alright on the night. Well, it won’t! People like myself feel personally lied to and cheated. We can see no reason to ever support the current Brexit “plans”. The only thing that could correct this is a People’s Vote. Anything else and the Bad Guys have won and we just let it happen.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with David Quinn but I have to say I’m not holding my breath over government seeing the error of their ways any time soon. Their totally blinkered attitude and refusal to engage in any intelligent way with those of us who have a real and passionate concern for our country does not fill me with hope for a sane outcome.

  • Great fun facts if BUT…
    A People’s Vote will not be won with these.
    We have to look at the issues that motivate a Leaver. We need to reclaim or at least destabilise the feelings stirred up by “patriotism”, “bravery” and anti-bourgeois rebellion that have been so enjoyed by Brexiters.
    Probably continuing to quote Churchill is one of our strongest cards.

  • I totally agree. What annoys me is that when Theresa May became PM, I thought that the “grown ups” were now in charge…but now she has the mantra of “delivering Brexit…it’s what the British people voted for”

    OK, 17.4 million people voted leave (no doubt fuelled by these lies), but 29 million people didn’t vote leave. So why is she turning the country upside down and inside out?

  • It should have been obvious, from the point that Cummings and Elliott were appointed to mastermind the Leave campaign, just what a lying, cheating, mendacious, deceiving, duplicitous, xenophobic dog-whilstle campaign of thorough-going nastiness it would be. And so it proved.

    As hard right-wing operatives these two pranksters have form. Elliott is directly out of the TaxDodgers Alliance and then these two came together to run the referendum campaign on the AV system (itself utterly useless, but we will pass on that for the time being). They turned a campaign on voting reform into one about anything but: it became one about (a) the persona of Nick Clegg and (b) an ever increasingly spurious set of “alternatives” to the use of the money to be spent on future AV elections. Remember all of those, “Wouldn’t you prefer to have the money spent on AV spent on nurses in the NHS instead?” or “Wouldn’t you prefer to have the money spent on AV spent on more teachers in schools?” etc.

    The supreme irony of the NHS being safe in the hands of these two hard-right hit men!

    Anything involving these two punks has the whiff of US hard-right Republican “Tea Party” Alt+Facts-style campaigning. Should there ever be a People’s Vote, this needs to be planned on the basis of yet more of this and so it should incorporate its own version of populist push-campaigning.

  • Unfortunately facts are now not enough to persuade people to change their minds;the future now relies on the quality and strength of character of our MPs. Will they follow their consciences and vote in favour of what they consider to be the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom or will they vote according to personal ambition, fear of the Whips or political advantage. With both major political parties hopelessly divided ,the fairest way to encourage MPs to vote with their consciences ,is to allow all MPs a free vote.

  • How can the results of the so called referendum be allowed to stand when they were largely based on intentionally false information which many people did not see through, and were also misled by headlines in the less accurate papers in this country!
    A fresh referendum, with full information as to exactly what .Brexit would mean to the ordinary man in the street (and his wife!) to be fully published, in easily understood wording, both in every newspaper and on radio and television news programmes. All to be vetted and published in identical and exact terms by a respected independent body. THEN we should get a more accurate reflection of what the majority of people (all age groups) really do want – toStay or Leave.

  • Some people just remembered what it was like to live in pre-EU Britain. They never wanted to go in, or they were disappointed and disgusted when they did.

    These people didn’t need ads or propaganda to make them want to leave. They just wanted to get away from Britain being stomped all over by the EU, so they voted.

    Propaganda is using the term “so-called referendum”.

  • @ Ruth – I think alot of Leave voters were motivated by a nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ back in the 1960’s, but what they forget, is that the world has moved on since then. The EU was less significant then, now it is a major player in the part of the world we inhabit, which, to remind some, is called Europe.

  • @ Ruth & Alex I remember those good old days, Red Ted calling strikes at Longbridge for longer tea breaks because the company gave them new mugs that were bigger and held more FREE tea. The miners strikes that left the old and vulnerable with out heat 3 day working week because electricity was rationed. No light in the evening queuing for petrol the IMF having to bail out the country because our Harold was busy having beer and sarnies with the unions spending money on things the country could not afford like peanut plantations. Visas for just about every country you tried to enter, waiting in line for just about every thing they were the best days of our lives I think not. Any one nostalgic for those days need to see some one. Joining the EEC freed the people from a lot of red tape and improved our lives the only ones that lost out were the likes of the MOG’s father who lost control of the workers and his supply of serfs. Withdrawal from Europe only puts them back in control to 99 per cent of the populations detriment.

  • 1. Turkey has to do a lot to join. Nevertheless, it’s a fact that they want to join and they might make better progress to join later on in life!
    2. Fact, Iraq and Syria are geographically next to turkey. Once you’ve crossed illegally/legally, what is to stop the free movement of people flooding the rest of Europe?
    3. Fact. The EU takes £350 mill a week and we get £100mill back in rebates? Shall we split hairs that ACTUALLY it’s a £250mill bill? Or did the leave campaign advertise that £350 million of British tax payers money could be better spent? On the NHS maybe? A good suggestion perhaps?
    4. Fact. Explain that the EU is not crippling to the NHS when people who have lived here since birth cannot get an appointment? Or witness new people signing up to the local doctors. I have personally witnessed refusal of appointments whilst Europeans or refugees sign up to a very much already full surgery. Also, As far as I know. No one has said that no one can migrate to Britain to work in the NHS after Brexit either! Skilled people should be welcomed to Britain, regardless of sex, color, religion. We don’t need to be in the EU to practice that.
    5. Fact. I have personally seen how the EU has affected the lives and families of many people. Sometimes for good! But mainly for bad. Telling Someone like myself, who have witnessed families struggle with working week hour cuts, health and safety, and pay issues makes proud to be a leave voter!

    Get over it. 🇬🇧

  • @Ruth

    I am sorry, but that is factual rubbish. The U.K. was the poorest new entrant of the the European Community. Miserable with a very bad crisis and serious mining area problem. The U.K. was not in any rosy state unless you were from the upper classes.
    The Europen Community, in fact, created the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) to support the newly joined poor U.K.
    That is the U.K. of that time.
    Again another factless post to confuse.
    The referendum took advantage of the UK having the well reported lowest level of knowledge on the EU, false propaganda over years fuelling conspiracy theories helped when the moment was right, ie migration and terrorism caused by instability in the Middle East to bring fear into people (instability fostered by US and UK actions in the past). By the way, free movement of people was championed strongly by the UK when other member states did not like it.
    A combination of absurdidly contradictory lies to cater for every fear and false expectation was launched by leavers’ project fear, lying on Turkey, NHS, trade issues, financial services, markets, to cater for all.
    What was not addressed is why the U.K. has some the worst regional income disparities in the EU and a very badly scoring school system. When I entered LSE in London 1990s lectures jokes that British students were the worst. In another university as a tutor I was appalled by the weak native language writing skills of undergraduates coming from UK normal schools.
    Brexit is all about Britain in fact, internal injustice that blew up with the crisis and austerity for the poor and tax cuts favouring the rich. Brexit is run by the same bunch that created the social division, good luck.

  • Re point 5: “The big decisions are made by all 28 EU governments reaching agreement. Commissioners appointed by these same governments thrash out the details, and then have to get the approval of MEPs directly elected by citizens.”

    This point is not quite correct, as Commissioners are *not* involved in adopted legislation. The Commission only provides the initial draft, but it is the *Council*, along with the (directly elected) *European Parliament*, that adopts legislation. The details are actually hammered out by Council working parties made up of representatives from each Member State’s relevant government department, and once the text is finalised, it is adopted by the Council – made up of the 28 ministers of government from the Member States. Please correct your text!

  • Mark,
    I will just comment on your Point 5. I am not sure why you think the EU is to blame for falling hours, safety standards and pay issues. These are all under control of Business owners and often our own desire to pay the lowest prices for the things we purchase. Figure it out for yourself, less cost eventually leads to a squeeze on the all of the above. The EU doesn’t impose this on us, in fact many other EU countries don’t have our notorious zero hour contract working arrangements. I cannot understand for a moment why you think the working man will fare better if the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg calls the shots, who would happily see the working safety reduced to the level of sweat shops of some countries. Brexit offers an illusion that if only we are unshackled from the EU, all of our ills would be cured. The truth is we have always had the power to make a fairer society as a member of the EU. If we haven’t done so by now, leaving the EU will not fix it either. Eventually we will have no-one else to blame but ourselves.
    I would suggest you consider whether that leave vote which you are proud of will deliver what you expected. If you know deep down that it won’t then maybe its time for a rethink.