Is Brexit a policy deception? Were voters deceived during the Brexit referendum? Darrin Baines, Sharron Brewer, and Adrian Kay examine how political, process and programme failures combined to create a fiasco that misled many voters into believing that Leave was an actual, and easily deliverable, policy option. This blog summarizes the analysis originally outlined in their recently published paper, “Political, process and programme failures in the Brexit fiasco: exploring the role of policy deception”, in the Journal of European Public Policy’s special issue on the Brexit fiasco.
During the 2019 general election, Boris Johnson’s rallying call was “Get Brexit Done”, with the implication that: (i) Leave was a real, deliverable policy option, and (ii) Parliament, the EU and Remainers were obstructing the Conservative government’s attempts to exit Europe. The Brexit withdrawal agreement came into effect on 1 February 2020, but Brexit as a policy terminus still to be determined: profound policy questions from the protection of social rights to the workings of the British regulatory state do not have answers. Far from suggesting that Brexit has been done, the uncertainties associated with the current transition period and beyond suggest that Leave is a policy deception that has fooled voters and is proving near impossible to deliver in the ways suggested at the 2016 poll.
The Leave referendum option has been so hard to deliver because voters were deceived. Cameron’s government, guided by the Electoral Commission, included Leave on the 2016 ballot paper when this alternative had not been properly planned, negotiated or agreed. Leave was an empty vessel, and voters who believed this alternative was a real, viable policy pathway were misled.
Brexit is a policy fiasco. The word ‘fiasco’ is theatre slang for ‘failure in performance’. The Brexit fiasco was caused by the combination of three interrelated political failures: (i) the failure of Cameron’s political performance, (ii) the UK government’s failure to complete the institutional processes necessary for exiting the EU, and (iii) the failure to deliver the required policy programmes.
The etymology of the word suggests that these political, process and policy failures involved deception. The term ‘fiasco’ originally derived from the Italian phrase to ‘make a bottle’. A ‘fiasco’ is a type of round-bottomed Italian bottle with its own tight-fitting straw basket. In 1574, Italy’s government started to certify the vessel’s contents with a lead seal applied to its outer straw casing. In order to deceive customers, producers started re-using their certified baskets on vessels containing less liquid so that greater profits could be made.
The UK’s Electoral Commission was tasked with choosing two official campaign groups that could be trusted to fill the two ‘standard-sized’ Brexit options fairly. By choosing ‘Britain Stronger In’ (‘Remain’) and ‘Vote Leave’ (‘Leave’), the Electoral Commission put its seal of approval on their campaigns. This may have supported the belief that they were both trustworthy and viable policy pathways. Many voters were unable to see through the ‘straw casing’ created by the Electoral Commission’s approval of Vote Leave as the official exit campaign, which stopped them seeing that the Leave option was an empty vessel, a policy deceit.
The Brexit referendum allowed voters to choose between ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’, supposedly two equivalent ‘vessels’ containing different political contents. If these ballot options were the same ‘size’, then the electoral process would be democratic and the choices equal. However, Leave was a baseless referendum option with no intrinsic policy value and could not automatically be cashed-in for any agreed set of policies or political outcomes.
There was a misconception that, because it appeared on the ballot paper, the Leave option was backed by ‘something’ in policy terms; designs of a UK successfully functioning outside the institutions of the EU. The Brexit referendum resulted in a process failure because the Conservative government was unable to deliver the baseless Leave option in a timely, efficient manner. Voters were systematically deceived by the promise of post-EU institutional arrangements backed by the necessary political, legal and economic arrangements. In 2016, neither did these arrangements exist nor were plans put into place for their eventuality.
Cameron failed to put the policy procedures in place to create a viable exit plan, secure agreement for that plan from other EU member countries or have a clear and deliverable way to deliver the Leave option. It was a systematic deception that misled voters into believing that the official alternative to Remain was backed by something. Given the lack of details about the type, nature and outcomes of policy programmes after an exit, Vote Leave deceived voters by suggesting imaginary political changes with imaginary socio-economic consequences.
The Brexit programme failure has its foundations in the political promises made by Vote Leave. The lack of pre-agreed terms for Britain’s exit meant that Vote Leave could invent their own policy programmes and designate their face value without fear of contradiction. They could print their own ‘baseless’ political currency.
Cameron’s failure to secure agreed terms for leaving before the referendum also allowed EU leaders to refuse to cash-in the UK’s exit decision at a value acceptable to the government, parliament and many of the electorate. Therefore, Brexit may only be deliverable at a substantial economic loss to the UK rather than producing the substantial benefits promised by the Leave campaign. As a result, there is likely to be a significant difference between the expected and realised benefits of Britain’s withdrawal. This cost will be incurred because the Leave option was not based upon an agreed set of policies, with a known value. This is like buying a bottle of wine without checking the volume of liquid first, only to find that it is less than full, with some expected contents missing.
In sum, Leave is a baseless policy deception that misled enough voters into believing that exiting the EU was a readily deliverable policy alternative that could automatically be delivered. As negotiations during the current transition period may highlight, this deception may be difficult to deliver because no one has yet clearly specified what the 2016 Leave option means, including Boris Johnson’s government, which has already declared that they’ve got Brexit done.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE. Image copyright Neil Theasby and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Goodness what an undiluted baseless piece of opinion, I am frankly shocked it has an LSE tag!
You could on the other hand go for facts and look at the remain campaigns projections on what would occur in the event of a ‘no’ vote, you will recall these projections were based simply on the vote not on when we had actually left. I can’t be bothered to look them up exactly but the only correct projection was that our currency would fall. Otherwise the stock market didn’t collapse, house prices neither, employment rather than falling rose. I guess you could argue that the corona virus is the first of the plagues wished upon us and in your topsy turvy ‘academic’ world I wouldn’t be surprised if you did.
Keep up the good work, interesting to note Bournemouth now appears to have a university!
The forecast was not wrong but it was misused. It was based on no change to policy, which happened in three days, increasing national debt and reducing the value of the pound. These forecasts are to guide policy not for political campaigns where voters are not trained in economics.
I completely agree with you. I still find it hard to believe that educated people still do not understand what Brexit was about.
Being “not bother(ed) to look them (the facts) up” provides great freedom in formulating opinions. Enjoy it!
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Leave Remain issue is why Leavers arrive at their choice, as it flies in the face of reason and evidence. This article is an attempt to analyse that mystery and is meaningful to Remainers and Neutrals, I suggest. Leave supporters have a sort of blindness even to simple truths so would have no hope with this article.
Leavers often claim that the arguments are all over and they can’t be bothered to go into them again. That is not surprising as they were wrong on them all. And the arguments are still with us. One of the few specifics they will use is that Remain leaders made incorrect forecasts. There has been far more inaccuracy in Leaver claims about Remain forecasts than Remain forecasts but leaving that aside there was extravagant rhetoric on both sides. Surely the most dishonest claim is the recent, ‘vote for the Johnson English Nationalist party and get Brexit done.’ What it really meant was get Brexit to a point where there is no going back.
Please put your efforts into persuading the country to remain rather than writing this empty vessel of an article. Remainers think that by making the same arguement over and over about the iligitimacy of the leave vote that suddenly the situation will reverse and all will be well again. It reminds me of when I was a child and I could put my hands over my eyes in hide and seek and convince myself that I couldn’t be seen. If any energy was put into making the arguement to remain then maybe the outcome would have been different. By scaremongering, and the fact that the reasons for remain aren’t actually that strong, mistruths have won the day.
Real helpful article guys. Honest 👍
Most of the deception was self deception and that is why leavers will not change their minds. Racists are predisposed to racism etc….
I would like to know where the database is stored which was used by Vote Leave during the Referendum. Thanks to the ‘boasting’ from Arron Banks and his sidekick, Andy Wigmore, we have a pretty good idea where the Leave.EU database is stored – on the servers of one of the Banks’ Companies in Bristol, and maybe in Mississippi as well!
Dominic Cummings, who has gained much notoriety since the December election, and one of his close colleagues in Vote Leave, Thomas Borwick, both boasted that they had sent 3 Billion digital ads to 8 Million electors.
That database was operated by the tiny Canadian Company AggregateIQ to ‘post’ those 3 Billion digital ads, most of them containing rumour, disinformation and fake news. There is a suspicion that the database they used was stored somewhere in the USA, in the Database Warehouse which belonged to the parent Company of Cambridge Analytica, the SCL Group.
SCL, Cambridge Analytica were set up with $Millions invested by Robert Mercer, who had also purchased the Intellectual Property Rights of AggregateIQ.
That latter company did a lot of the development work on the Artificial Intelligence system built by SCL, which was known as the ‘Ripon Platform’. That system collected every ‘link’, every ‘like’, every ‘share’ from something like 87 Million Facebook Accounts. So AggregateIQ not only knew how Ripon worked, but there is evidence that they used Ripon for some of the work they did.
We have to deal with what we DO know.
We KNOW CA were given the UKIP database and membership lists by Arron Banks in Leave.EU.
We KNOW CA then purchased 87 Million Facebook accounts from Aleksandr Kogan when operating at Cambridge University.
We KNOW Thomas Borwick worked for both CA and SCL and used one of his own companies to purchase electoral registers containing 20 Million British electors.
Now, I’m not saying that that is what actually happened. But, I am saying there is enough evidence raising far too many doubts about how exactly Cummings, Borwick, and of course, Matthew Elliott, backed up by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, succeeded in persuading, what Cummings had called the ‘Persuadables’, to vote Leave.
So, did the Conservative Party continue to use the same updated database for the 2019 General Election?
Cambridge Analytica were past masters at ‘using’ a database, changing it, adding to it, and creating what they considered to be a totally ‘new’ and unique database, constantly updating and revising it.
Is that what they did with the Facebook Accounts, and all the Friends from those accounts, and merged with the 8 Million British electors they sent digital ads to?
“Were voters deceived during the referendum?” Yes. “Was there ever a democratic vote where voters were not deceived on both sides?” Well I can’t think of one …
Instead of the polemic published above, I would find it more interesting to read an analysis of the flaws of the 2016 referendum (there were many, as I think must be acknowledged on all sides) with recommendations about how referenda might be better conducted in the future. But since overblown dishonest claims have been an integral part of the democratic process back to ancient Athens (you can read all about them in Aristophanes) I don’t think you are going to be able to eliminate them.
Actually that’s incorrect. House prices have dropped like a lead balloon. Getting full asking is now the exception not the rule. Many businesses have migrated…including Dyson!
But then the rats are always first to flee a sinking ship.
Dropped like a lead balloon? This table is from the UK LAnd Registry and shows actual sales! Sorry the facts get in the way of the rhetoric!
Average price by type of property in hide
marker image for All property types All property types marker image for Detached houses Detached houses marker image for Semi-detached houses Semi-detached houses marker image for Terraced houses Terraced houses marker image for Flats and maisonettes Flats and maisonettes
See data graphSee data tableDownload this dataCompare with location …
Date All property types
May 2016 £210,872
Jun 2016 £212,887
Jul 2016 £215,127
Aug 2016 £215,145
Sep 2016 £214,816
Oct 2016 £214,107
Nov 2016 £215,113
Dec 2016 £215,500
Jan 2017 £215,243
Feb 2017 £215,697
Mar 2017 £215,236
Apr 2017 £218,642
May 2017 £219,954
Jun 2017 £221,833
Jul 2017 £224,719
Aug 2017 £225,738
Sep 2017 £224,895
Oct 2017 £225,092
Nov 2017 £224,453
Dec 2017 £225,330
Jan 2018 £224,544
Feb 2018 £225,131
Mar 2018 £223,772
Apr 2018 £225,910
May 2018 £226,834
Jun 2018 £228,355
Jul 2018 £231,187
Aug 2018 £231,898
Sep 2018 £231,454
Oct 2018 £231,211
Nov 2018 £230,224
Dec 2018 £229,729
Jan 2019 £228,314
Feb 2019 £227,741
Mar 2019 £227,247
Apr 2019 £228,947
May 2019 £229,174
Jun 2019 £230,271
Jul 2019 £232,715
Aug 2019 £233,668
Sep 2019 £233,999
Oct 2019 £233,656
Nov 2019 £234,103
Dec 2019 £234,742
Realistically, there was never any prospect of a leave campaign being based on any other than lies and supposition because the information that did exist pointed so firmly against leaving the EU that the only way to create a leave campaign was to celebrate ignorance and denigrate expertise. Hence, we have the gruesome spectacle of people like Michael Gove telling us we’ve had enough of experts whilst pushing the views of what can only be described as a lunatic fringe.
We will get the brexit we deserve, an expensive, painful and messy one which will leave generations poorer and disenfranchised.
The only way this country can be healed is by exposing the lies of the guilty brexit supporters and then prosecuting them.
In generations to come, we will look on Brexit as we do appeasement, albeit with much less sympathy. It is a historic catastrophe.
This needs to be inflation adjusted.
It also ignores the currency drop but that isn’t relevant for everyone.
Having read this article, I am still none the wiser as to why it is entitled ‘brexit is a policy fiasco’ since the postulation made by the authors is simply that it is ‘likely’ to be a policy fiasco.
I have never understood the support for remaining within the eu.
Why would any right thinking person wish to remain in any organisation whose accounts have been qualified every year for twenty years, whose appointment process for senior officials is corrupt, admitted by its own parliament, whose only democratically accountable organisation is no more than a rubber stamp and whose judiciary is quite clearly partial and politicised?
” Why would any right thinking person wish to remain in any organisation whose accounts have been qualified every year for twenty years,”
I presume you left out a few words and are trying to say they have not been signed off?
Thanks very much for your response.
The eu accounts have been qualified every year for twenty years
Please have a look at the following and then come back to me:
Because being a member allows free trade which buoys our economy and make us more prosperous.
Because being a member gives us a wider window of opportunity and implements decent values that support people (working hours directive, blue flag beaches, food and environmental standards, maternity/paternity pay, humane treatment of animals).
ALL of which jar with our current governments quest for profit and (disaster) capitalism and without the need to commit to a level playing field, will be stripped away.
The every day man will be even more easily tossed aside by the crop now at the top. They’ve shown their dedication to that cause with the last 10 years of austerity. It’s their calling card, no there’s no restriction on them to act in our interests. And we’ve got a PM who doesn’t (act in our interests), just ask the flood victims.
And anyway, who cares about the EUs accounts? Who even cares if there is some sort of corruption? Why such high expectations of the EU when most aspects of business & governments are putrid?
As it goes the EU is more democratic with its representative elections then our antiquated FPTP system that is no more fair a representation of democracy.
It’s a total joke that people think the EU is bad when it’s our access to it that has helped this country fly for the last 40 years.
What do we have to look forward to now? Farming subsidies slashed by 25%. Bye bye farming and fields of sheep. Manufacturing migrating to retain tariff free access to Europe. Bye bye manufacturing. And with it bye bye jobs, livelihoods, traditions, families once no deal takes bite at the end of the year. Whilst we do what we can to adjust to being Singapore-on-Thames with a government free to trample it’s people. Eugenics anyone?
The eu is a customs union which prevents free trade between its members and non member countries.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies makes clear that:
‘if the UK ceased to be a full member of the EU single market, it would be able to apply different regulatory standards to food imports’
‘Such changes would serve to lower the price of foods imported from non-EU countries.’
This country has championed human rights for many years. That will not change now that we have left the eu.
Indeed! What has capitalism ever done for us?
As for Singapore, it consistently tops PISA education rankings and its response to the COVID 19 virus has been exemplary.
But don’t take my word for the problems of the eu….why not listen to the eu parliament instead:
“the Commission failed to respect the principles of transparency, ethics and the rule of law in the procedure it used to appoint Martin Selmayr as its new Secretary General”.
Lawmakers said they “strongly regret” the Commission’s decision to confirm Selmayr as its new Secretary-General, “disregarding the extensive and widespread criticism from EU citizens and the reputational damage caused to the EU as a whole”.
“Selmayr must resign as Secretary-General,” the Parliament resolution concludes, calling on the Commission “to adopt a new procedure for appointing its Secretary-General, ensuring that the highest standards of transparency, ethics and the rule of law are upheld”.
There are very real and vitally important facts that both sides did not make public which had they been public knowledge would almost certainly increased the leave vote. No one during the campaign spelled out the outrageous position in the EU of its debt and the very real possibilities of what could happen as a result. To stay in the EU with the forthcoming financial problems that are due because of the Financial Stability Treaty. Remain would I suspect have lied about it if it been published. As others have stated only a fool would wish to stay in an organisation like the the EU knowing the full fact about its awfull moneytery position.
MMM the accounts not qualified thing again. This is a baseless dog whistle. If you have any evidence of wrongdoing or fraud please contact the local constabulary.
That’s the whole point. The eu audits its own accounts. There is no local constabulary. But even the eu’s own auditors cannot sign off the eu accounts without ‘qualifying’ them.
Please read the following and then respond:
Despite agreeing with virtually every word in this article I have to agree with those posting here that it is now pointless. Johnson is technically correct to say he has “got brexit done”. We have left the EU. What he cannot say is that he has got something remotely credible or deliverable to put in the yawning gap that brexit has left. Academics are better employed in addressing that than bemoaning the undoubted calumnies in the leave campaign.
Baring in mind this was posted on a blog it’s getting decent coverage. It’s a reasonable overview without too much attention to detail, but I agree with most of it.
Educated leavers went with their gut value based on their belief to be British was to be as successful and independent as they are.
Sadly, the toilet paper press got behind it for their own reasons. Persuading the masses based on that feel good factor of Rule Britannia.
The government aren’t interested in the various range of reasons and priorities the majority voting leave would tell you about.
They are pandering it seems to the lowest common denominator. Confusing free speech to challenge governments with protests etc and crossing it over to hate speech.
Surely they of all people should show leadership and draw the clear line by example. Just because you employ a self ambitious (clueless) Priti Patel, doesn’t cover the cracks of your xenophobic racist stance towards ill thought through immigration policies.
The real story of Brexit has just begun. What comes next could be terrifying if we were to actually think about the emergence of Nazi, Nationialisation. I mean to me it was always a likely consequence. Only a matter of when, not if?
The UK that was mine I already no longer recognise. Dare I say, I sense a growing hatred of my own Country.
And to me a vote to Leave, was a vote to harm your own country… and now Rees Mogg will reassure you we “might” see the benefits in 50 years.
Mr Rees Mogg is correct. The brexit vote was a long term strategic decision based on the accelerating decline in share of world trade of the eu. Future prosperity does not lie within sclerotic, bureaucratic, autocratic, democratically unaccountable neo imperialist trading blocs.
To accuse those who voted for brexit as xenophobic racists flies in the face of this country’s recent history. Britain has welcomed over 12 million new citizens within the last twenty years. It is difficult to imagine anything less xenophobic and racist than the intention to continue welcoming significant numbers of new citizens to this country within a more controlled immigration system made necessary by the strains such huge numbers have placed upon the healthcare system, housing and infrastructure of this so moderate and charitable nation; a beacon of hope for so many.
Tim Bidie: “Mr Rees Mogg is correct. The brexit vote was a long term strategic decision based on the accelerating decline in share of world trade of the eu.” The prediction you attribute to Mogg may or may not be correct. That said, the company (Somerset Capital Management) he founded, which made him one of the country’s highest paid politicians, at least in 2017 [https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jacob-rees-mogg-conservative-mp-north-east-somerset-capital-management-investment-firm-belgravia-a7902951.html] has more immediate and financially-driven objectives than such long-term projections. This company, relocated strategically to Ireland in order to avoid the worst effects of the Brexit he has supported so loudly, makes its money out of “emerging economies”. In short, bringing Britain to its economic knees is a great opportunity for a company like his that provides investments for national rebuilding. It’s called disaster capitalism. He can also be seen making a mint out of the coronavirus pandemic [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/apr/05/rees-mogg-firm-accused-of-cashing-in-on-coronavirus-crisis]. This is the nature of Rees-Mogg: make money in the short term, no matter the misery involved for less privileged citizens. It should also be noted that he takes his economic advice from Patrick Minford, a discredited economist whose views fly in the face of every other financial expert [https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexiteers-economists-for-brexit-patrick-minford-study-doubly-misleading-eu-uk-trade-deal-tariff-a7691271.html].
And as for your statement that “Britain has welcomed over 12 million new citizens within the last twenty years”, I have but two words — “hostile environment”. Introduced by May in 2012 and continued today by Johnson, this policy is, as the name suggests, designed NOT to welcome new citizens. This is an illustration of how, despite all the pro-Leave rhetoric, Britain has continued to have the right to make its own laws on immigration and everything else. Different countries pursue their own policies, as can be seen by countries unilaterally closing borders because of the current pandemic. The concept of Britain somehow “regaining sovereignty” by leaving the EU was and always has been a total red herring. Examples of our sovereignty being unaffected by EU membership include three-pin plugs, driving on the left, our immigration laws, 98% of our other laws, the colour of our passports, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
It may be that the EU is not a perfect institution (unlike Westminster?) and is due for a collapse at some point, but it strikes me this is more to do with individual states like Britain who fail to see the advantages of cooperation, rather than the basic principle of working together with fellow autonomous states for the common good — which is what the EU is trying to be. After helping to set the EU up, successive UK governments have failed to participate in the EU as enthusiastically as other states, such as France and Germany, who have benefited as a result.
All of what I say — and what is in the article — is all well and good, but so what? “You lost, we won” goes the cry. It’s certainly well past the point of a recount of the referendum result. But underlying my problems with the Leave argument is that there is not much of a Leave argument. It seems Leavers are happy to point to problems with the EU — of which there are many, of course — but fail to provide an evidence-based alternative to the status quo. It’s right to question remaining simply for remaining’s sake, but there has to be something tangible as an alternative before abandoning what we have, which *is* tangible. Irrespective of the political heat associated with the remain/leave argument, I am struck by someone like Gove, who told us in 2016 we don’t need experts, yet is now (in relation to the pandemic) telling us we *must* listen to experts. I wonder, why did we not have an economic assessment of the risks associated with Brexit before the referendum? One-time Chancellor Javid refused to issue one as late as October 32019 [https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/21/sajid-javid-refuses-to-assess-economic-dangers-of-brexit-plan].
In order to get behind the impetus to leave, Remainers require more than slogans fabricated by those with vested interests and need some informed judgments. Mogg has vested interests in Britain failing. It makes money for his company. Let’s make our decision based on facts, or at least the opinions of experts. The pandemic, and the way it has been handled by various leaders, reveals the importance of experts and evidence-led policy-making. This is something that wasn’t — and still isn’t being — applied to Brexit.
“What comes next could be terrifying if we were to actually think about the emergence of Nazi, Nationialisation. I mean to me it was always a likely consequence. Only a matter of when, not if?”
Totally baseless and pathetic.
Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”
Hear, hear – absolutely right Will.
JRM and all the other leave cronies are driving this through for their own vested interest.
As you say, he is also profiteering from Coronavirus, when instead he could be using the off shored millions to fund some PPE.
You’ve captured exactly what all this Brex$hit is about, what it’s always been about and the british people who support it have been psychologically manipulated, so stupidly played right into their hands.
It’s like a wise man once wrote ‘we all have eyes, sadly, many of us still can’t see’
What a load of nonsense!!
The two states on the ballot paper were ‘remain in the EU’ or ‘not be in the EU’. They could hardly be simpler notions. there were 28 nations in the EU, and more than a hundred not in it. There is no half-way house.
How can ‘not being in the EU’ be a ‘deceit’??
The deceit was on the Remain side, which told us that the EU would be ‘reformed’; this is despite the fact that A) Cameron had not received any concessions as he went round Europe begging for help, and B) The EU told us during the campaign that Treaty change was not on the cards.
The article also ignores the fact that millions of Britons would have voted ‘leave’ BEFORE either campaign had got going. I wanted to vote leave in 994, when it began to become apparent just what the newly-formed EU was and represented. It abandoned all pretence at being a benign ‘trading bloc’, and assume the mantle of superstate, complete with a court and the concept of ‘citizenship’ conferred upon millions who already had a citizenship of their own nation.
I am still telling Remoaners to this day what an EU Regulation is.
The whole EU ‘thing’ is a con. It has no reason to exist, and it needs to be dismantled.
Oh, and before anyone moans……NATO.
It is tiresome that there are still attempts to rubbish the remarkably good record of accounts integrity across the enormous range of financial activities across the EU. Here is a posting I made back in 2016 – before the referendum.
“Here is the formal opinion of the Court of Auditors on the EU 2014 accounts – “The EU accounts for 2014 were correctly prepared in accordance with international public sector accounting standards, and present a true and fair view of the EU’s financial results for the year and its assets and liabilities at the end of the year. We were therefore able to give a clean opinion on the reliability of the accounts (‘signed off’), as we have done since 2007.”
So it is a lie to say the EU accounts are not approved or “signed off” by the auditors. Of course some recommendations for improvement are made as with most major organisations in the world. Looking at the revenue side (ie largely the money the EU gets from governments such as ours) the auditors find no material error and no significant weaknesses. That does not stop them making suggestions for improvement – auditors are auditors! – but their main recommendations relate to the expenditure side where there are material errors of some 4.4%. However they make clear that some 76 % of the budget is spent under what is known as ‘shared management’, with individual Member States distributing funds and managing expenditure in accordance with EU law. The detailed comments make clear that the errors consist very largely of inaccurate or ineligible claims made by beneficiaries (and usually passed at national level) and many of the recommendations are directed at improving these procedures. It is interesting to note that in looking at administration of the EU institutions themselves no material errors or significant weaknesses were found and certainly no instances of corruption or fraud of any kind.”
All that has happened since then is a steady improvement in this picture. The 4.4% material error rate in 2014 was reduced to 2.6% by 2018, a remarkable performance compared with major economies such as USA.
So give it a rest please!
There is not one single comment here that claims eu accounts have not been signed off. But even the eu itself admits that its accounts have frequently been qualified by its own auditors:
‘The auditors have found that payments from the EU budget are affected by a level of error above the materiality threshold of 2% but this level of error has been significantly reduced in recent years. For 2017, more than half of EU spending was below the 2% threshold, and the European Court of Auditors confirmed its qualified opinion, rather than an adverse one, on the legality and regularity of payments.’
https://ec.europa.eu (an official website of the eu)
More detail on how the eu accounts have regularly been qualified, and exactly what that means, here:
Likewise, the eu’s own parliament adopted a resolution condemning the appointment of the eu’s most senior official in Dec 2018:
‘“The Commission created an artificial sense of urgency to fill the post of Secretary-General in order to justify not publishing a vacancy notice,” the resolution says, referring to the Ombudsman’s inquiry. The selection procedure was organised “not to fill that role directly, but to make Mr Selmayr Secretary-General in a rapid two-step appointment,” MEPs said.
The resolution also recalls that the Ombudsman found four instances of maladministration in Selmayr’s appointment “due to the Commission’s failure to follow the relevant rules correctly, both in letter and spirit”.’
In spite of 71% of the eu parliament supporting that resolution, the Secretary General only finally left in August of the following year by means of a constitutional manoeuvre to force him out.
The eu’s court is partial and politicised.
Those, and many others, are excellent reasons for this country to show a lead and leave an organisation that has so clearly outgrown its original remit and, indeed, its usefulness.
The Law Gazette – Dr Gunnar Beck. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/may/14/afd-candidate-gunnar-beck-accused-exaggerating-academic-credentials
I love the smell of cognitive dissonance in the morning
I think the language of the article is somewhat confrontational. However – and I say this as somebody who makes a living by developing policy implementation plans – the underlying argument is actually theoretically sound.
We are not deceived unless we first deceive ourselves. Please think on it.
Fascinating. The authors are of an opinion, it seems. It may be genuinely felt, but given the facts as they have been known and debated at length, the argument is not convincing. Do we really need to go over the same ground again and again. Well, it is for some who have not yet moved on to take up, once again, the cudgel.
Not being an academic, or very connected with same, I sometimes wonder whether academics really know or believe what they are writing, saying or stating. The same could apply to anyone commenting, of course. The Brexit saga really got going in the second half of 2015. The attitude taken by EU officials and bureaucrats was an early indication of the kind of kindergarten stoush it appears to have come to be. However, apart from the bad faith on the part of EU apparatchiks and the UK governments from Cameron by way of May to Boris Brino, and the anti-democratic Remainer/Remoaner intransigents, the majority in the UK at least have displayed a mature attitude towards the referendum result and the subsequent continued argument over Brexit, the referendum and the, or any kind of, implementation of Brexit.
The history of the modern nation-state is said to have begun with the Treaty of Westfalen. Those countries which since have managed to become sociopolitical independent have often had a long and/or difficult struggle to achieve independence.
The UK was born, in a way, in a union the eventual formation of which also involved various struggles. Then, for some time, the UK was part of an empire. It barely left that empire behind when it joined another budding empire, the EEC/EC and then the EU. Now this. If Remainers who will not give up live long enough, they might see England and Wales join with a European federation which makes more sense than the EU proto-totalitarian authority, but for the moment, the UK people have chosen this path. It remains to be seen whether Brexit is really going to happen, but if it does, the UK will not be the first country to gain or regain its sovereignty as a nation-state. It’s always a wrench for some, and to make a new beginning, old relationships need to be put on a new basis. It takes two to tango. If the EU refuses to be reasonable and cooperative, that is not the choice of all the EU member countries, but the choice of a certain collection of individuals who form a power block across a few of the main EU federalisation protagonists. These are Germany and France, mostly. It would be interesting to find out what the electorates of these two nations think about the plans to turn the EU into a federal state against the express wishes of the majority in many of its member states. Some EU member countries have ruled out further plebiscites on that, or any other, matter. How will it all turn out, with the EU federalisation project? Time will tell.
There have always been idealists who wanted in effect for Europe to become one country. Even they were not usually contemplating something stretching to the Urals – one of the reasons why the UK were quick to encourage the ex Soviet countries to join the EU was to ward off the “one country” dream. In this they were successful – there will not be a complete merger. It will remain a pipe dream.
However the EU concept – which will continue to develop and hopefully improve, democratically and otherwise – is IMHO a noble and constructive concept, in many ways an example to the world. I and very many others are deeply saddened at the exit of our country which has contributed so much to the project. We must now try to help the UK to find at least the least worst way forward but don’t ask or expect us to knuckle under and pretend we like it.
@ Jams O’Donnell, inter alia, please don’t be pedantic. The UK is not a nation-state. Ok, it is a nations-state. As to a European federation, in maybe 50 years, it would be possible if the damage done by the EU project would not be too severe and prolonged. Now onto idealists @ Denis Loretto, the EU concept was and is a rotten one. The Utopian dream of a united Europa is the Trojan Horse.
Was there ever an idealistic concept turned into a movement that was not infiltrated and gradually taken over for nefarious purposes under cover of the false pretences of the ideal to get people’s support? Sometimes the elite, cabal, mafia, etc., don’t wait for an ideal concept to become lodged in the popular mindset and grow into a movement, but manufacture one to suit their hidden agenda, the which centres on money, power, political power, money, control over others, materially, psychologically, emotionally, culturally, etc., etc.
The cabal which has been in control of the EU federalisation project has certain basic aspects to it which make the project incapable of reform. I would leave it to proper scholars to flesh it out- I’m not the first to mention the dire deficiencies of the elites running this project- but basically it is an idea, a concept, which has its genesis in the pre-Christian era of empire. This is hardwired into the structures of power, not just political power, but international high finance, commerce, economics, religious, psychological, cultural and so forth. The elites in Western Europe, particularly those which constitute the cabal which actually run the EU show, have taken a concept which in the modern civilised world of democracies and civil-human rights is thoroughly outdated. The EU ways and means of acquiring, amassing and growing the power base and moving at speed to consolidate power is structurally and organisationally that of tyranny, even if it is dressed up, for the time being, as benign and paternalistically motivated- i.e., even if you’re not on the payroll, you have to believe that “It is for your own good”. The elite running the EU project is supported by coopted sub-elites in most of the EU member countries and the international (mostly Western-based) globalisation new world order fraternity-which is having a two-way can’t lose bet with Brexit. These people have a mindset which is decidedly early last century. They cannot conceive of a world in the 21st Century in which democracy matures and nation-states learn to cooperate peaceably without bullying, stand-over tactics, bulldozing out of the legitimate dissent and civil rights. Here a note about EU citizenship. Though I have been very appreciative of my ability to travel within the Schengen area, I have had no illusions about travelling unhindered and unchecked anywhere there, other than the UK, paradoxically, which was not in the Schengen zone.
There is more, for others to analyse. Basically, the people in power in Western Europe have a mindset which belongs in the pre-WWII era. The 1920s and 1930s is where they will take us. For the 21st Century, Europe needs leaders who understand the situation Europe and its peoples are in. These people, as new leaders, will not be able to do anything until the old guard is fully discredited. I cannot see how this EU cabal can do anything other than bring Europe to the brink of civil war, frankly.
Yipes! I hope you had a lie-down after that.
You have got your brexit. Let’s now see how it goes.
The UK is not a ‘nation-state’ – it is a (temporary) union of two nations plus two smaller entities, as you give a nod to in your reference to ‘England and Wales’. But as to your purported ‘European Federation’ there are absolutely no signs of its present or more relevantly, future, existence. Wishful thinking, you will find, is not enough to bring such a nebulous and ridiculous entity into existence.
Yes the Leave campaign lied.
But the real blame LIES with the leaders of the Remain campaign..which was pathetic. Remember the Clegg v Farage TV debates in 2014.
Clegg was hopeless.
Corbyn sat on the fence as he still DOES on this issue.