Hashtag Brexit denial

Image by Jan Harvey, Twitter

The American mid-term elections are over and the election denialists seem to be losing ground over there. We can hope this might set a trend, as there seem to be any number of causes based on denying at the moment. Denying the severity of Covid-19, or the science behind vaccinations or masks, or of the climate emergency, to name a few. Brexit denial seems to be a particularly British form of these cult-like tendencies and we can hope that it, too, might soon reduce.

Brexit denialist-in-chief Jacob Rees-Mogg is still in full flow. He denies that any harm has come from Brexit – even though he can’t find any benefits. He is equally convinced that no good ever came from our membership of the European Union (EU), denying the reality that member states have autonomy over any policies they make. His most recent act of denial focused on Boris Johnson’s ability to have provided Ukraine with weapons and specialist military training before Putin unleashed his illegal war nine months ago. Enabling Ukraine’s early preparedness was one of the few positive acts of the Johnson premiership, which explains why he is so feted in Kyiv.

However, Rees-Mogg claimed:

“Had we been a member of the European Union in February, we would not have been able to set a framework to allow Ukraine to be so successful. That would’ve been one of the biggest defeats for the Western world in modern history.”

His claim is undoubtedly overstating the impact of British support, but Rees-Mogg went on to suggest that the ‘doctrine of sincere co-operation’ would have prevented an independent policy on Ukraine. We could just call his claims a lie – one more in a Brexit saga, which is shot through with such deceits. A quick glance back at recent history shows the UK making its own security decisions whilst a member of the EU:

  • UK was a member of the EU when Parliament supported Tony Blair joining the US in bombing Iraq.
  • UK was a member of the EU when Parliament voted down David Cameron’s proposal to bomb Syria.

Whether or not we agree with the decisions in either case, the UK made its own choices over which the EU had no influence. There have been very many other British military decisions, some of which accorded with other EU states and others did not.

Each EU member state makes its own policies and laws, particularly in respect of security, but it recognises strength in joint statements and unanimity. The EU has declared its unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Putin’s aggression.

What possible reason could they have had for objecting to the UK providing military support? None at all, but the Brexit denialists cannot admit any possibility of good in the European Union. And that is why it is insufficient to simply focus on the mendacious nature of the claims: denialism is cult-like, bearing no relationship to reality or proven facts.

Indeed, Brexit has become a taboo subject, one that Chris Grey has likened to the 1960 obscenity trial of the novel ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. He cites chancellor Jeremy Hunt – also a denialist – asserting “I don’t accept that Brexit will make us poorer.” Calculations from the Office for Budget Responsibility show that Brexit has led to a 4 per cent reduction in UK gross domestic product, yet its adherents deny that it has any bearing on the current economic crisis.

Brexit was based on a series of lies, which continue as its adherents adopt a cult-like belief in it. But denying the economic – and other – realities of problems caused by Brexit will inhibit the search for solutions, so we need to start calling out #BrexitDenial whenever we see it.