If you've forgotten all the lies told during the Brexit referendum and what the truth has turned out to be, let me remind you

The way things are going, the crew from the BBC’s Horrible Histories are going to soon have some new material to get their teeth stuck into

James Moore
Friday 27 July 2018 13:02 BST
As for Boris Johnson, there are so many porkpies on his plate that, well, where do you even start?
As for Boris Johnson, there are so many porkpies on his plate that, well, where do you even start? (Getty)

One of the things that puzzles me about Brexit: why hasn’t M&S emerged as a rare winner from this national act of self-immolation?

Given the way the Brexiteers’ pants have been permanently on fire (liar liar, you know the drill), you’d have thought they’d have been ordering lorry loads of new pairs from the place.

“M&S orders, how can I help you? Ah, good morning Mr Johnson. You want another lot of extra extra, extra large? No? You want 10 times the usual amount? Are you sure? You’re already our biggest customer. Ahhh I see! You want to make sure you’ve got some stockpiled in anticipation of an almighty cock-up at customs and our supplies being stuck in that Brexit Kent lorry park for the best part of six months? Very wise. We’ll get them dispatched for you.”

“Perkins? Better call the finance department. We might want to upgrade our third quarter forecasts for the market. Boris Johnson’s been ordering again. We’re going to light up the City of London. When’s the last time anyone said that?”

Looking at M&S’s share price, it’s just not been happening. Has Johnson defected to Amazon, or does he get them specially tailored on Saville Row? I think we should be told.

Of course I jest. But the fact is the government is already stockpiling foods, medicines and other essentials in anticipation of a no deal that we were told simply wouldn’t happen.

The sort of information householders and businesses are going to be receiving in the forthcoming government briefings on how to ready ourselves for a no-deal Brexit is worse than just about anything Remain dared to warn of, as part of what Johnson described as “Project Fear” during the EU referendum campaign.

He said that was over in the aftermath of the result, while standing grim-faced next to his personal Brutus Michael Gove.

Now? Project Fear is back with a vengeance, courtesy of the Conservative Brexit Crazy Party, which lost a general election it didn’t need to hold and then sat on its hands until the last minute before producing a Chequers plan that crashed and burned within a matter of minutes.

Except that it’s Project Fear no longer. What the British government is doing to confront the subjects it is wilfully and brutally betraying... is pant-wetting. And it's now “get yourself down to Tesco to stock up on canned goods and candles” reality time. A reality that could hardly be more different from the stripy candy the Brexiteers sold during the referendum.

International trade secretary and ministerial codebreaker Liam Fox told everyone that it would be “the easiest thing in human history” to strike a trade deal with the EU. The way things are going, the crew from the BBC’s Horrible Histories are going to soon have some new material to get their teeth stuck into.

According to David Davis, we should now have secured separate arrangements with Germany, France and Poland and added the USA, China, India, the UAE, the seven kingdoms of Westeros and half of Essos to that list. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.

Yes, I know, the last named pair are fictional. But here’s something that’s not. Davis, who spent more than a year as Brexit secretary, this week told the prime minister to tear up Chequers and start again, with only six weeks of meaningful negotiating time left.

As for Johnson? There are so many porkpies on his plate that, well, where do you even start? It is worth noting that both he and Nigel Farage used to talk about staying in the single market like Norway, which would save everyone a lot of grief.

Now? That option is being characterised as the greatest betrayal since Hitler tore up the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and invaded Russia.

One thing is common to all of them: according to their claims, Britain should now be sailing off towards a glorious future, with Boris Johnson bridges built across the globe and orderly queues forming outside Fox’s door to create a free trade zone spanning the Milky Way. Not you Klingons, you wait your turn. The Romulans are first in line to sign up.

Instead we have a godawful mess that looks more frightening by the day. It could hardly be more different from what Vote Leave used all those extra funds the Electoral Commission found it had illegally spent to sell its voters on, as my Remainer Now friends have come to realise.

They are the greatest victims of the real betrayal and they’re hopping mad. I don’t blame them.

Given all that, and given that we now know the true choice we face, the case for being given the choice of how to proceed, the Final Say The Independent is campaigning for now we have had a few facts, is unimpeachable.

If the nation decides it still wants to burn itself to the ground afterwards, that’s democracy. But in the absence of a people’s vote, what we are being confronted with isn’t even an imitation of it.

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