They never mentioned it before the referendumby Steve Bloomfield / April 26, 2018 / Leave a comment
For a vote that simply asked whether Britain should remain in the European Union or leave, the Brexit referendum appears to have been about rather a lot of different issues. It was about immigration, economic insecurity, a lack of investment in the Northeast/Wales/whichever-traditional-Labour-region-the-speaker-is-from, control over laws, sovereignty, trade. And now, according to Brexiteer cabinet ministers, it appears that the vote was about the customs union.
Ahead of today’s debate in the House of Commons about whether the UK should stay in the customs union (or “a customs union” or have a “customs arrangement”), cabinet ministers backing a hard Brexit insisted that any customs deal would be a “betrayal” of the referendum result.
“British people gave politicians clear instructions,” tweeted Sajid Javid last weekend. “Includes leaving the Customs Union.” His colleague Michael Gove chipped in his support. “Sajid is right,” he wrote. “The referendum vote was clear—we need to take back control of trade—that means leaving the protectionist customs union.”
But there’s just one small problem—they didn’t say this before the referendum. The Vote Leave website has a list of 58 “key speeches, interviews and op-eds” by its leading lights during the referendum campaign. The words “customs” is mentioned just twice, the phrase “customs union” makes just one appearance—a sentence in a 5,000-word summary outlining the reasons to vote leave.