Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer has argued in the Times that a no-deal Brexit has no mandate from the British people, claiming that during the 2016 EU referendum, ‘nobody was told that voting Leave could lead to no deal’.
His words were echoed by arch-Remainer and veteran Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, who told BBC News, ‘what was not debated in 2016 was the likelihood that we would end up leaving the EU with no deal‘. Writing a month after leaving his post at Number 11, Downing Street, Hammond stated that it is a ‘total travesty of the truth’ to suggest that no deal was warned as a possibility to voters during the campaign.
Despite these claims, prominent Remain figures have repeatedly and publicly argued that a vote to Leave meant Britain could leave the EU two years after triggering Article 50, with or without a deal. In a speech, three months before the referendum, then-Prime Minister David Cameron told crowds of Remain supporters and the onlooking media that ‘we could pull out of the EU and fall back on the World Trade Organisation rules‘, a synonym for no deal. The following month, then-Chancellor George Osborne, who now edits London’s Evening Standard and backs a second referendum, proclaimed that after leaving the EU we would be ‘relying on our existing membership of the World Trade Organisation‘. To top off the hypocrisy, on 25 February 2016, Hammond told the House of Commons from the dispatch box that ‘at the end of those two years [the Article 50 notice period], there is no guarantee that agreement will have been reached, but our exit would be automatic’.
The British people were told about the possibility of no-deal again and again in the run-up to the momentous 2016 EU referendum. Despite this scaremongering, they voted for it anyway. To now say that voters were unaware of this is entirely dishonest. However, this is unsurprising coming from a man whose objective since the vote, according to Downing Street sources, has been to ‘cancel the referendum result’.