The pro Brexit politicians who whipped up fear and stoked divisions in Britain are being exposed as charlatans who lied to voters about what leaving Europe would mean.
Boris Johnson, the poster boy for pro Brexiters and the betting favorite to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister, tried to allay the nation's fears by continuing to peddle the lies that led to his side winning the referendum. Except this time around the public isn't buying it.
Why? Because the economy is rapidly disintegrating, and Johnson and other pro Brexit Tories have publicly admitted that Britain cannot leave the single market and will have to remain open to immigration in order to trade equitably with the rest of Europe.
Of course this is a political impossibility -- Britain cannot have access to the single market if it is not a part of Europe, and a Conservative government cannot lead the country going back on its immigration pledge.
Here was Boris Johnson's fantastical thinking on what a Britain outside of Europe means:
Yes, the Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry. Yes, there will be a substantial sum of money which we will no longer send to Brussels, but which could be used on priorities such as the NHS. Yes, we will be able to do free trade deals with the growth economies of the world in a way that is currently forbidden...
British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. As the German equivalent of the CBI – the BDI – has very sensibly reminded us, there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market.
This was shot down by Brussels almost immediately (via the Guardian):
European diplomats have dismissed claims from Boris Johnson that the UK could negotiate access to the EU single market without obeying any of the rules.
“You cannot have your cake and eat it,” said an EU diplomat, echoing a phrase the former mayor of London used during the campaign and which looks set to come back to haunt him.
In a further blow to the leave camp’s credibility, Germany’s leading business group distanced itself from Johnson’s suggestion that German business expected Britain’s free trade with Europe to continue seamlessly.
In short, Johnson lied.
He also lied about the danger of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom, stating that he did not "detect any real appetite" for Scots to have another referendum on their independence. This despite Scotland overwhelmingly voting to stay in the EU, and Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon stating that a second referendum is “highly likely”.
The reality is that Britain won't have access to the single market outside the EU, and Brits won't have the right to live and work anywhere in Europe while denying the rights of Europeans to live in Britain. Scotland will also likely leave the United Kingdom for a place in Europe -- a certain death knell for Britain that will have a devastating effect on its economy and standing in the world.
Yet the public were led to believe that they could have it all -- an astonishing feat of cynical politics and a testament to just how idiotic the Brexit movement really was.
Adding to all of this, the Labour party is currently imploding as Jeremy Corbyn faces a vote on his leadership. More than half his cabinet quit in protest of his dismal performance during the referendum, and the party will likely be almost completely ineffective in opposing the Tories as they form their own new, more right wing government.
The only silver lining in all of this is that if Johnson is elected to lead the conservative government, he faces almost certain political suicide if he pulls the trigger and invokes article 50 -- the formal mechanism for leaving the EU. Without the assurances that he promised the public, Johnson will have to take the plunge into the unknown and that means almost certain disaster given the global financial market's reaction in the wake of the referendum and Scotland's threat to abandon the UK. Johnson will have to face the people he riled up and tell them that unless Britain stays in Europe, the nation is finished -- an unthinkable prospect that he knows he cannot go through with.
Because who wants the disintegration of the United Kingdom and the obliteration of its economy as their political legacy?
The truth is that the arguments to take Britain out of Europe were based on outright lies. An 'independent Britain' was always a fantasy fed to disillusioned voters sick of politicians taking them for granted. Instead of improving Britain's standing in the world and improving the lives of those who voted to leave, Boris Johnson and his cohorts have turned the economy back 30 years and made the nation the laughing stock of the civilized world.
There are potential routes out of this mess, and all of them involve staying in the European Union. Parliament may put it to a vote and ignore the public's opinion, or Scotland may veto the ruling in order to prevent the UK leading them out of Europe. Both are politically dangerous, but none more than leaving the union that ensures Britain's long term financial security and standing in the civilized world.