Promises Promises

Three weeks on from the vote and a lot has happened. And a lot hasn’t either. Very very few of the promises that were made have been acted on yet – but it’s still early days. Some of the predictions have started to come true – but, again, it’s still early days.

However, it’s important we do not forget all these promises and predictions because it was these that formed the basis of the vote and so the mandate that we gave the politicians. Whatever these promises and predictions were based on – fact, belief or pure fiction – they formed a part of the campaign and informed people’s choices.

Democracy isn’t about a single vote every five years – otherwise what would the opposition be for? Democracy is more than that. Key elements are: freedom of speech, the rule of law, and the right – the duty – to challenge politicians on what they have promised.

So after many discussions on Twitter, this is what this post is all about. Compiling the promises and predictions made in the campaign so that we can ultimately make a judgement of who was right and who may have been lying.

There will some who will call this – as some already have – undemocratic. They have said: Remain lost, get over it, work for the future etc. However, this should have been done whoever won as it’s a vital element of a democratic society. In a normal General Election there is a losing party who do this. Here, there isn’t; so we have to undertake it ourselves.

Of course, we are only going to look at promises and predictions relevant to a Leave vote because that is what happened. But I am going to be distinct as well in separating out promises from predictions or warnings. A promise is something that you are going to do, an action. i.e. vote for me and I will do this for you.

A prediction is different. That is saying if you vote for A, then this will happen; if you vote for B, then something else will happen. There’s no personal action involved. It is being put forward as a simple consequence of the decision. i.e. if you chose to go out in the rain with no coat or umbrella, you will get wet. It’s not the rain’s fault; it would be your fault for making that choice. Whether or not that actually happens is then a judgement on the people who made that prediction. Something those people can then be held to account for – but it’s not an action they can do.

Also, this isn’t about the multitude of Euro-myths that have been told for years and years to the point that so many believe them. Virtually all are easy to debunk so long as you are prepared to look at evidence and there are many sources which address these. Two I’ve found quite useful were written by Richard Corbett MEP, a man with far more knowledge of the European Union than me. I would encourage everyone to read his two pieces (here & here) – from whatever side of the debate you are on – as every point is based on and quoted from facts, not opinions.

So here are the promises and predictions. At this stage, I’m not commenting on what has happened; and we’re not looking at what people said after the vote – people had made their judgements by then. We’re just compiling.

Promises

  • £350m per week extra can now be spent on whatever we want.

Leave Battle Bus

This is perhaps the most famous promise, even though so many people have tried to say it was not a promise. Phrased as I have above, it is clear and unambiguous. Leave said we send £350m a week to the EU (which was never actually true – but that’s another point discussed here) and therefore there is £350m a week, that the UK can spend on whatever it wants. The “Battle Bus” suggested the NHS; but that wasn’t the promise. The promise was that there was this amount of money that could be spent.

  • EU programmes will continue to be funded in the UK until 2020 at least. Stated by the Vote Leave team in an open letter.
  • Bring Immigration under control – Boris’ statement endorsed on the VoteLeave website  sets out the official position. While the clear impression of the Leave campaign was that they were going to stop immigration – or reduce it to the tens of thousands, they were very careful not to actually say that. On the final debate, they were repeatedly pushed to give a figure they were aiming for but they avoided doing so and just said “Take Back Control”. However, combined with posters such as the infamous “Breaking Point” there was a clear promise that immigration was going to be reduced as a result of voting Leave. That is the promise that we’ll follow.
  • David Cameron: I won’t resign.
  • David Cameron: I will trigger article 50.

Predictions

  • Exchange rate will fall making imports more expensive. HSBC report quoted here but there are plenty of others – happy to list as many as people feel appropriate
  • Investment into the UK will reduce.
  • A Brexit vote will lead to a recession. Bank of England Governor, Carney’s prediction
  • Turkey will join the EU within 5 years.

If people would like to submit evidence of promises and predictions – ideally with photographic evidence or links to documents – then I will happily add them to the list. Likewise, if there’s any more detail to add to the first tentative ones that I have put up here, that would also be helpful. Perhaps we can achieve a definitive account so that politicians can be held to what they have promised.

Remember, Democracy only works if politicians are held to account. If people have voted for something and you cannot deliver it – you have no mandate. Bouncing people into a settlement that no one really wanted is not acceptable. Yes, it might be the best deal on offer; yes, it might be the compromise that is required; but if it is not what the majority wanted in the original vote, then the actual choice has to be put to the people again. Promises can then be judged, politicians held to account; and the actual real way forward that is on offer can be approved.