I was wondering…what if someone made a movie trailer from the scare stories politicians keep telling us about Brexit? So I did. Here’s Project Fear 2 – this time, it’s not at all personal.
Q: Is this true, or is it a spoof?
A: It’s a film trailer-style video, designed to demonstrate a point – but shockingly, everything in the video is based on truth.
The Mirror did run a headline ‘Brexit could trigger World War 3‘ after David Cameron suggested that Brexit would risk peace and stability on our continent. The European Council President did indeed say that Brexit could ‘destroy Western political civilisation‘, and the Commission President agreed with him. The Treasury did claim that at least 500,000 jobs would be lost within 2 years if people voted for Brexit. This claim was made, in public and on television, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
There’s a little poetic licence in the storytelling (it’s a spoof movie trailer, after all), but it’s all based on fact.
Q: Isn’t the phrase ‘Project Fear 2’ a bit disparaging?
A: The phrase ‘Project Fear’ was coined by Rob Shorthouse in the Scottish independence referendum campaign, and it quickly became used to describe the Remain campaign’s tactics in the Brexit referendum too. Use of a label like ‘Project Fear’ is actually tame as a description of the campaign tactics of threatening war, mass unemployment, cancer, etc.
Now establishment figures, including former Prime Ministers, are openly working to reverse Brexit. Project Fear 2 seems an apt title for that.
Q: Are you actually making a feature-length film?
A: No. It’s just the trailer, sorry.
Q: But don’t Project Fear have a point? If experts are saying that Brexit could cause cancer, shouldn’t we listen to them?
A: There are expert arguments on both sides as to how Brexit will impact on healthcare, but Project Fear portrayed it as though Brexit was going to kill people. Morris Brown, professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Cambridge described the EU’s Clinical Trials Directive as “a disaster that threatens patients’ lives”. That’s pretty strong stuff, reflecting the verifiable data in the link, but I don’t recall leading Brexiteers using such scaremongering tactics and saying that ‘Remain will cause cancer’. And Sir Andre Geim said in his Nobel prize lecture that [EU rules] were “discrediting the whole idea of an effectively working Europe”.
Q: But surely the mass job losses have happened?
A: Quite the opposite. In fact, more people are in employment than ever before, with unemployment rates close to a record low. Project Fear couldn’t have been more wrong.
Q: Brexit hasn’t happened yet. The economic disaster is yet to come.
A: Here’s the problem with that argument. Project Fear campaigners claimed the disaster would start from June 24 2016, the day after the referendum. That just didn’t happen. If anything, the economy has improved. If they’d said it would happen from Brexit Day originally, they might have had a point. Now they’re moving the goalposts because they don’t like the economic data.
Here’s my report on why these projections are so wildly wrong.
Q: In the trailer, a sinister voice says ‘if you want to know the reason for the lies, follow the money’. What’s that all about?
A: This isn’t intended to be taken 100% literally, but there’s actually a strong argument that ‘big money’ is behind much of the Remain campaign, and the attempt to reverse the Brexit referendum vote.
Half a million pounds is being spent on a series of adverts designed to do just that. The Best for Britain group is funded by multi-billionaire George Soros, once dubbed ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’ over the UK’s withdrawal from the Exchange Rate Mechanism. During the referendum campaign Remain outspent Leave by roughly 3 to 2, and the UK government spent a further £9.2 million over and above that on leaflets and online advertising recommending a Remain vote. Many of the pro-Remain groups in the EU referendum campaign had received EU funding themselves, to the tune of €160 million. Some of the questionable campaign tactics of the Remain campaign seem to be receiving a ‘free pass’ in sections of the media. Then from the EU’s point of view, the UK flits between being the second and third-largest contributors to the EU budget. The UK pays the EU far more than it gets back in return – why wouldn’t the EU want that to continue?
Q: And the phrase ‘standing up against a sinister government’…?
A: A more accurate phrase would be ‘against a bureaucratic and incompetent government’, but that wouldn’t really fit well with the genre. A little poetic licence, perhaps.
Q: What about the phrase ‘we’ll call them racists’? Surely nobody’s suggesting that all 17.4 million Brexit voters are racists?
A: Surprisingly, this slur comes up more than you might think. Even the leader of the Liberal Democrats was accused of doing precisely that after he claimed that older Brexit voters wanted ‘a world where passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink’, though he later denied that he was accusing all 17.4 million of racism.
Q: Who are the ‘one small group of people’ who ‘stand up for freedom’ that are mentioned in the video?
A: Hopefully, you. I’m referring to the people who counter Project Fear’s misinformation. The people who keep up the pressure by writing to your MPs, by sending letters in to your local newspaper, getting on to radio phone-in shows, even just talking to your friends and family. The people who, if they tried to overturn Brexit, would take part in peaceful demonstrations to stand up for our national freedom. The people who would deliver leaflets and knock on doors if they forced a second referendum on us, to try to overturn the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ decision that we made barely 18 months ago.