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What ‘Brexit: The Uncivil War’ got wrong

8 January 2019

3:31 PM

8 January 2019

3:31 PM

Brexit: The Uncivil War offered a wacky portrayal of the Vote Leave operation. I was intrigued to find myself portrayed at a board meeting which I never attended because I was not a member of the board and certainly not on the Vote Leave WhatsApp groups. Even a cursory glance of the records of Vote Leave would have revealed this. I received no contact from the makers of the programme at all.

Beyond that, I always had the gravest reservations about the advertising on the bus and on the way the immigration issue was handled. I certainly don’t believe that the referendum result was the product of some quirky genius. The credit for the result of the vote lies entirely with the good sense of the voters themselves who have never been comfortable with the European institutions and their dominance. They simply wanted, and still want, to make their own democratic decisions in line with their own wishes at general elections. Fictionalising this may be interesting to dramatists but has very little to do with the overriding and deeply felt determination for democratic self-government, which simply did not come across in the programme. Had the arguments for this been properly explained during the campaign I strongly believe that the result would have far exceeded the 52 per cent to leave which was achieved

I do think, however, that one of the most perceptive observations was in the words of the actor portraying Craig Oliver when he concluded that those who campaigned to remain never had a chance. He admitted this because they were up against feelings and attitudes generated over more than twenty years since Maastricht, which we campaigned against precisely because it created European government. Oliver conceded that they could not overturn these in a few weeks. This simple fact is demonstrated by Jason Farrell and Paul Goldsmith in their book ‘How to Lose a Referendum’, which is more to the point than attributing the outcome to the whimsical eccentricities on which the programme concentrated.


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