Lies, half-truths and related myths from the Brexit fiasco

Wednesday March 18 2020

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions question and answer session in the House of Commons in London on March 27, 2019. PHOTO | MARK DUFFY | VARIOUS SOURCES | AFP


Once upon a time there was a woman named Brittany who decided to move to a new house as she had grown tired of her neighbour asking her to lend him salt — even though when she needed cooking oil he had always obliged. Brittany decided that her husband and three children must all agree on and be happy with any new house. The problem was that between them they could be very picky and either the house didn’t have enough bedrooms, or the bathrooms were too small, or the fixtures just weren’t modern enough.


One week to the end of the notice period Brittany realised they still had not decided on a new place. They had nowhere to go and soon they would be homeless.

And that is the simplified story of the disaster that is Brexit. Here are the other lies that the British public, parliament and Prime Minister have been telling themselves.

Lie number one: if we just keep putting it to a vote then finally the situation will resolve itself even if this is three years later after the initial Brexit vote. Along the way there have been a couple of major clues that this strategy was not working even if you are not Sherlock Holmes.

One. Two. Three. Resign. The number of major parliamentary defeats suffered by Theresa May over the past week alone, not to mention the 5.8 million signatures on an e-petition last weekend to stop Brexit. Even the EU realised Britain was living in a dream world with a March 29 planned exit and extended the deadline on behalf of Britain.

Arguably the referendum on Britain leaving the EU should have never taken place. If you ask a group of Form Fours whether they would like to take their KCSE exams (or not) at the end of the year – it is likely the answer will be an emphatic no.


The second major half-truth category is from the Remainers camp and goes something like: We need to stop Brexit so as not to jeopardise business interests. In my experience, enterprise doesn’t like uncertainty. By this time my guess is every major corporation is acting out its contingency plan , if not a long-term scenario. Practical trading ties and dependencies to Britain have been severed. Regional and headquarter offices have been shifted to more welcoming cities – like Amsterdam and Paris, that offer access to the EU bloc.

The economic curtain call came down months, if not years ago. Lala land myth number three comes from the Brexiteers and is that Northern Ireland must just fall into place with any solution and stop being so contrary. Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is a Trumpian utopia with over 100 ‘active’ walls separating the Catholics aka Republicans pro-rejoining Ireland and the Loyalists to the Crown or Protestants.

Whole communities are segregated and do not mix because of the tenuous peace situation. The soft border with the EU has eased tensions, giving everyone a middle ground. However, there is no doubt that a hard border comes with a high risk of the loss of life and a return to ‘the Troubles’ during which over 3,500 lives were lost.

In a purportedly civilised democracy, under what circumstances is it really okay to act so casually about the potential loss of lives?


Which brings me to half-truth number four. Could it be that democracy is not all its touted to be? One could conjecture that the ‘People’s Choice’ Awards may not be the most effective or efficient way to rule a country.

There is a theory that a benevolent dictatorship is the best form of government. (Of course the major flaw in any dictatorship is that the dictator needs to self-identify in a majority vote of one).

It’s possible though that the inhabitants of a country don’t necessarily know what is best for them, especially when it is not their day job to study and debate economic, political and social implications.

Lastly, dear Britain, have you ever heard of project management? This discipline refers to when you set yourself a goal and clear milestones and tasks towards achieving it. There are many commercially available software packages to help on this and in the worst case you can even use a simple excel sheet.

In any addiction rehabilitation programme, they say the first step is admission. Maybe the British public needs to admit that they are addicted to useless Brexit solutions. Parliament needs to own up that it made a mistake in the first place and abdicated its responsibility by refusing to take the decisions for which they were elected and putting it back to an ill-informed populace.

And as for May, may the Lord be with her.

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