Even the government’s sporadic truth-telling is used to advance further falsehoodby Jonathan Lis / February 13, 2020 / Leave a comment
Indulge me, if you will, in a little thought experiment. Imagine that, in the run-up to last October, Boris Johnson had admitted that no-deal would cause untold chaos or disruption, and that people had voted for neither, but that he thought it would be worth it. That during the general election, he had spelt out the necessity of checks on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and carefully explained that, while the formal withdrawal was being “done,” the most challenging Brexit negotiations were just beginning. Yes, he said, Scotland had had a rough deal, the circumstances around the independence referendum had changed, and Brexit might now make independence more likely. Yes, he had once said he supported membership of the single market and the Leave campaign had promised unfettered access to it. Yes, Brexit came with economic and political costs, and those costs had not initially been made clear, but he still wanted people to support the project and the party delivering it.
If it sounds preposterous, it is because it is. We cannot imagine a political landscape where such a conversation might have taken place. Indeed, now Brexit has been “delivered” it becomes even less likely. The last four years were merely establishing the foundations of dishonesty, and now they have been completed, the work can begin to ensure people forget the truth altogether.
Since we left the EU two weeks ago, ex-MEP Daniel Hannan has scorned the Remain “doom-mongering” with the observation that nothing has changed, in spite of the fact we are now entering a transition period where that is the precise point. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has denied there will be checks for goods in the Irish Sea, despite the new international treaty which makes them explicit. And Johnson blustered his way through a speech in Greenwich in which he continued to insist on the sunlit uplands of free trade at the same moment as he was erecting new barriers to it. Such developments comprise an ongoing narrative that Brexit will be a success, even if all the evidence suggests otherwise.
But of course the government knows that people are not stupid. Everyone will see that there are checks taking place—particularly across the Channel. And…