Vote Leave director admits they won because they lied to the public

Buried in a 19,800 word Spectator essay written by former online editor and Vote Leave director Dominic Cummings is an admission: The Brexit referendum was won by lying to the public.

The piece, found here, is well worth reading but also falls victim to classic mansplaining of a complex issue with many words wasted on prose that most politicians would be proud of, working around the subject rather than delving in to the heart of it.

Of course, that’s for a very good reason, because at the heart of the vote to leave the European Union is an entanglement of lies and propagandist sensationalism that even the most brave souls wouldn’t dare admit to.

There is the admission that the NHS wouldn’t really take back our £350 million EU fee, and that immigration wouldn’t really be capped, and that standards of living wouldn’t really change if we left the EU. All of which are matters that the general public voted on, and all are incorrect.

And so to the damning paragraph that outs the Leave Campaign for what it was:

Pundits and MPs kept saying ‘why isn’t Leave arguing about the economy and living standards’. They did not realise that for millions of people, £350m/NHS was about the economy and living standards – that’s why it was so effective. It was clearly the most effective argument not only with the crucial swing fifth but with almost every demographic. Even with UKIP voters it was level-pegging with immigration. Would we have won without immigration? No. Would we have won without £350m/NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests No. Would we have won by spending our time talking about trade and the Single Market? No way.

To casually admit that the NHS swung the vote is an admission that the Leave campaign won because they lied to the public, and few tweets better sum up the state that that leaves the rest of us in than this:

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64 Responses

  1. Jeff

    The post in no way admits the vote leave camp lied. Just that they came up with an effective marketing strategy.

    It was never a commitment that the NHS would get 350M. In fact, the official manifesto only eluded to 150m I believe.

    Regardless the campaign and the government who actually decide these things are two different things.

    The only thing vote leave did factually lie about is that we “send” 350m per week to the EU. That is factually incorrect as it’s a gross membership fee without factoring rebate we receive before payment. Happy for you to savage the brexit camp for that clear lie I.e. the word “send” but the principle of the 350m to the NhS line is absolutely fine and I haven’t seen one brexit voter say they feel duped. In fact, it’s just remain voters that make up stories about leavers feeling duped!!

    Strawman arguments is the reason Remain lost and your post continues down that path of failure.

    1. rideforever


      On the day of the referendum the BBC was already running stories about the future as a member of the EU. Because nobody would be racist or Nazi enough to vote for Brexit, obviously. Only racist idiots without a brain would vote to leave the EU.

      And this had been the tone from the beginning.

      So what effect did it have on voters ? Clearly voters realising that they would be racist idiot backwards Nazis if they voted to leave … clearly that has a very strong effect on the public.

      Without such bias the vote would have been 60 / 40 to leave, or even 65 / 35.

      Even Andrew Marr says that the BBC is deeply culturally biased employing a a completely unrepresentative number of blacks homosexuals jews and whatever other minorities they can find, and that the output of the BBC is therefore severely biased.

      And he is right.

      The Left talks of tolerance and democracy, but you can see how thin their principles are. They lose 1 vote and suddenly become violent and try to slander everyone and everything and damage the country. The Left does not believe in tolerance and democracy, these are just cheap words for them. It is fake. Fake politics, fake people and fake news.

      The EU has one the lowest growth rates of all regions on the Earth, whilst at the same time having some of the best and most educated people, it is the home of Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Einstein. Why are things so bad ? Why is unemployment 50% for young people in the south ?

      What a disaster.

      Some people live to play the violin. Other people are too busy living.

    2. Crow

      They pledged to increase funding to the NHS and knew they weren’t going to do so, they’ve directly stated that they don’t have the money to redirect to the NHS budget so they DID lie. Unless you don’t class pledging to increase the budget to 62 million people while knowing you were either unable or unwilling to do so as lying, of course.

      OH and there’s multiple videos in which a few of them deny ever mentioning a £350m increase in funding, despite riding in a bus with it plastered all over.

      1. B Lane

        How could they pledge money to the NHS. They were not in government. It’s up to who is in number 10 when we are out as to where the money goes. As for the Bus. It said. “We send the EU #350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead” Where in that sentence does it promise anything by anyone ?

      2. giles bradshaw

        “They pledged to increase funding to the NHS and knew they weren’t going to do so” both parties are campaigning on a commitment to increase NHS funding. The tories say they already have.

    3. Jerry Evans

      You are deluded. Are you actually still saying that that inflated figure on the bus didn’t lead people to believe that the EU was costing us £350M a week?

      And anyway, If that wasn’t the intention then what was?

      I do take your point though, telling the truth isn’t a winning strategy these days but at least I sleep at night.

    4. giles bradshaw

      The leave camp thought the economy would benefit from Brexit the remain camp thought Brexit would harm the economy. The issue was debated and the Leave camp won. That’s all it is. Remain lost and have hence been transformed into remoan.

      1. Peter Boorman

        The leave camp did not “Think the economy would benefit from Brexit” because no one who is not a moron could possibly believe that to be true IF they had access to the facts, as the spinmasters of Leave certainly did.

        What they DID think was that Brexit would give them more power (the politicians) or more opportunity to exploit low regulation and to game environmental and energy efficiency rules (people like Dyson) or the chance to avoid the impending EU wide regulations that would make them pay the tax they actually owe us instead of being able to hide all their money abroad even though they clearly make it in the UK (people like Murdoch, Desmond, Rothermere, etc.) or that weakening the UK and the EU simultaneously would help their personal agendas (which is why Leave got money from Putin’s Russia).

        None of the people orchestrating Leave thought it would benefit the UK economy: they simply thought it would benefit them personally, for a range of individual reasons, and never mind the fact that in the process there was NEVER ANY DOUBT that leaving would make the vast majority of us poorer, weaker, less influential globally, less respected as a nation, with fewer rights and fewer opportunities, fewer protections, less food security and lower food quality etc. etc. etc.

        ALL of this was always the absolutely inevitable consequence of leaving the EU, and if you believe otherwise then you have been duped. Do some basic research, look at facts not polemic, data not opinion and you will learn that you were lied to.

        Many Leave voters were very angry – it’s just that they were angry with all the wrong people.

    5. 38Red

      Well said Jeff! The bus side message actually said ‘we send the EU £350 million a week’ The next line says ‘Lets fund the NHS instead’. The only part of these two statements which could be construed as a ‘lie’ is the ‘send the EU £350 million’ as this refers to a gross rather than net figure. It is still defensible however: you must presumably send (at least in a nominal sense) in order to receive a rebate. The magic beans we receive in return from the EU must also be of some value. The second statement makes no claim as to how much extra we should spend on the NHS . It makes no reference to the £350m figure. I concede that this may be misleading to those unable to parse a couple of sentences. The outcry from many remainers regarding this ‘lie’ suggests some of them possess the much vaunted dimness which they attribute to virtually all Brexiteers. I write as one who voted remain.

    6. Ray

      I have seen Brexit voters say they were duped, but even at that with the allegations of stupidity flying about it is a classic defensive mode to for people to say they were not duped even if they were.

  2. Kathy

    What a ridiculous statement to make. I have wanted a referendum on the EU for at least the last fifteen years, and I have always known how I would vote if we were lucky enough to get the chance. Nothing that was said in the campaign made any difference to how I felt. I wanted to get out for all the obvious reasons – the corruption, the lack of control and sovereignty, and the cost to the British. The fact that the EU is now dying on its feet has only confirmed my conviction.

    1. Fathomer

      Then you voted for nothing in the end. We have regained no ‘sovereignty’ because it was never lost. There is no such thing as ‘Brussels overriding the UK govt’ as the UK govt passed into law every single piece of EU legislation it debated, voted on, passed to the Lords, went through committee stage, and then on to the statute books. As such it ‘Is’ UK law, not ‘EU’ law. The only difference between the two is that the ultimate, after passing through every stage of the UK legal system, was the European court. Further, you could only apply to the European courts ‘if’ the UK courts allowed it. This is, unlike the rubbish you have been fed, and sadly believe, is fact – and you can check it on fact checking sites. As for ‘corruption’, compared to our own govt, the EU smells of roses (which shows how much our govt stinks), and you have, personally, aided in allowing them licence to loot once we are fully out of the EU. Oh, well done!

      1. Dan

        Fathomer, watch a video on YouTube.. Tell me you want this.. And then tell me the EU Union isn’t one of the biggest liers and deceiters out there.. when will you wake up.. Watch and listen very carefully..

        And RideForever you can watch as well and learn to keep your stupid labelling comments to yourself.. do you know what being a Nazi is? Or what racist means? Oh you do..? Then why make such a silly silly comment, for if you did then you would you would see through your typical stupid liberal no good comment.. If that’s the mind set of you remainders then thank god we’re leaving..

      2. lindyloo

        We will not allow them licence to loot once we are fully out of the EU because we are going to drain the swamp and get rid of all the corruption

    2. Dennis

      You’ve been had, love.
      The corruption is in the lies told to win votes to leave, sovereignty was always ours and £8 billion a year is chicken feed compared to the cost of leaving. Vast sums have been borrowed and will continue to be borrowed to fill the gaps. Aaron Banks has announced the loss to every household in the country of £4,300 per year is a reasonable sum! It is if you are a millionaire.
      £8 billion? How much to hold back Russian aggression and fight wars on mainland Europe instead of trading peacefully?

  3. Dennis

    They lied. The small minded, xenophobes, racists didn’t care. They voted to make us all poorer because they were brought to believe the UK would be rid of foreigners and all for, what Aaron Bank’s suggested was a reasonable, £4,300 per household.
    Every problem in their benefit driven lives was baled on the EU and now we are expected to fall in line and support our one party state.

    1. Dan

      Dennis you shock me with your stupidity.. If you saw an interracial couple walking down the road, would they still be racist for voting leave? Exactly.. Get over your liberal labelling no good comments.

    1. Martin F

      Privatization of utilities and sell of of public assets came from U.K. Government policy!
      After several privatizations the U.K. Government actually sent a team of civil servants who had carried it out with its their advisers and accountants etc to Brussels to get privatization aka ‘competition’ built into EU policy in fact – so it could be exported back to the U.K. to ensure even more privatization e.g. of more public service sectors.
      The only reason it includes various state companies owning the British businesses that were privatized is because a) their governments support state enterprise, not sell offs, and b) UK policy is ideologically driven to see any owners buying any industry as proof the market is doing its job, and c) the city of London banks are happy to lend to foreign state businesses borrowing to buy public assets or finance public projects. The U.K. Government typically thinks no nationally significant infrastructure needs to be excluded from privatization and foreign ownership, of course.
      So we are being ripped off by our own neo liberal government policy, not those terrible foreigniners babsically.

  4. Colin

    Right does it matter as people are moaning about coming out of the EU…..What about the older generation who voted to LEAVE because they were LIED to about joining it in 1974. Like the saying goes WHAT GOES AROUND ……You know the rest end off.

    1. Dan

      Colin think your one of the only people on here that is actually a normal human being.. With a brain.. Some people on here seriously.. There intellect allows only two words.. ‘Racist’ ‘Nazi’ 🙄 Your absolutely right.. What about the older generation who were lied to by being told they were joining the single market? Looked what it turned into.. One supreme country ‘Brussels’ trying to create a federal state.. A United States of Europe.. With no democratic system in the EU Union.. How many of the EU figures have you heard of, let alone voted for.. And we’re Nazis? What about the system there trying to create.. these young Liberal do-gooders NO-Gooders need to learn about the EU Union is about before they spout out labels and embarrass themselves. Good day to you sir, and fair play for sticking up for what is right.

  5. M Benton

    They may have lied ,but a lot of political talk is twisted truths ,do not treat us like fools .It’s not rocket science to search internet to know what’s what .Any body with half a brain can work out 350 million was rubbish,just like Cameron’s twist on imagration is good for Britain,yes and no ,certainly was not good for me,wages have been held down for years because of it….But point is I voted out not about NHS or migration but elietest brucratic unelected secreative presidential nonsense. It is bad enough an elected government,our one, making rules but one we have no say over ,,,not for me….And them telling us they will make it hard for us ,teach us a lesson ,nice Europeans ,do not get there way and stamp feet like a spoiled child………..I love Europe. But not the union.

  6. Yam Gurung

    British government “Divide & Rule”Idoiolgy and ego has indeed,divided the nation and created a very unhealthy and unpleasant environment amongst it’s own people’s?

  7. Andy

    There were those who voted leave because they believed that the EU policies regarding free market precluded any version of ‘true’ socialism being possible. A kind of burn the forest to give life to socialist seedlings approach. Nothing to do with small mindedness, xenophobia, or racism. I genuinely believe these voters numbered around 1.2 million. Daft but not evil.

  8. Andy2

    There were those who voted leave because they believed that the EU policies regarding free market precluded any version of ‘true’ socialism being possible. A kind of burn the forest to give life to socialist seedlings approach. Nothing to do with small mindedness, xenophobia, or racism. I genuinely believe these voters numbered around 1.2 million. Daft but not evil.

  9. Jason

    I voted to remain because I truly believe that we are stronger within the EU than without. The fact (and it is a fact) that people who couldn’t make an informed decision and relied on the leave campaign lies and propaganda is irrelevant – it was a democratic ballot and the British public voted out. Like the Americans who voted for Donald Trump to be POTUS, a lot of leave campaigners are thinking WTF have I done??? Well, it’s too late, we cast out votes and we are where we are. We have a new future to shape so let’s not live in the past, we need to get on with it and make it ours. That is democracy.

  10. Badbob

    I know a lot of people that wanted to vote leave, but believed the lies and made up statistics that remain used so voted remain. If the remainers had been around in the stone age we would still be living in caves.

  11. rick

    I voted leave not because they promised to give £350M to the NHS a week (which, anyone with a brain cell would realise it was a bollocks statement).
    I voted leave like most of the other people I’ve spoken to because of these absolute fucking retards in Brussels making our regulations and laws and their say is final!.
    Fuck that!, anybody remember these dipshits bringing in a ban on bananas being too bendy?.
    Fucking overpaid dickheads with nobody allowed to tell them “NO!”.
    Well, we did tell them”NO!”.
    And all them overpaid dickheads are now worried.

    1. Tony Austin

      The “bendy bananas” legislation was a story entirely fabricated by a tousle-headed dimwit journalist called Boris Johnson and was one of a number of E.U. untruths that got him sacked. Their word never was final, any member state could veto any ruling and the U.K. frequently did.

  12. Martin Badger

    For sure BOTH sides lied. What is almost certainly true is that the Leave voters believed the lies more readily because they are less intelligent. However, within 10 years many Leave voters will be dead and a party will win an election on the back of offering another referendum. The vote will be to rejoin and we will be accepted, though probably on fairly stringest terms. By 2025 – 2030 we’ll be back. Very litle is truly permanent, just like the 1975 refendum wasn’t.

  13. Last time I checked, the percentages for leave/remain were still about the same in the polls. Basically what this points to is that people vote regardless of the facts presented to them, relying instead on gut feeling, which reflects a lifetime diet of vindictive tabloid bile. “Britain, Great! Europe, Hate!!” is a mindset shared by a huge swathe of the national psyche and no amount of arguing will change that in this the 11th hour.

  14. Howard

    so many trying to argue that the lies weren’t lies – yet read the extract of the essay –

    “Would we have won without immigration? No. Would we have won without £350m/NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests No. Would we have won by spending our time talking about trade and the Single Market? No way.”

    The vote leave director does not seem to have any doubts

  15. P Powell

    It’s a shame the media is mainly owned by organisations who want to brainwash people into their political ideals, than what has really happened. Then people would remember how anti EU politicians are the biggest idiots and liars. Such as Boris Johnson saying on a TV show that there wasn’t a vote on 2nd war against Iraq, when we wouldn’t have gone to war 2nd time if more Tories hadn’t voted yes to it than other parties. Or how Michael Gove said Labour were liars for saying he would take away EMA, but then he did take away EMA. Or how Iain Duncan Smith spoke in favour of leaving the EU, and he harmed more British people than the EU could ever do. They want to protect the interests of few at the top, and keep people dumbed down. That’s why we can’t read hardly any news stories online without a sidebar saying to admire attention seeking schemes of talentless celebs.

  16. P Powell

    If media care about reminding people what really happened, then people would remember how after Margaret Thatcher made rest of Europe hate us before, she virtually turned us into USA state, and whistle blower David Shayler told how they were supporting USA fund Al Qaeda against Gaddafi. People should remember how after they left us with economy based on not much more than banking closely linked to USA system which relies on everybody being in debt, it all crashed by early 90s when nobody could pay back the debts they’re encouraged to live on, giving them excuse to not put money into what services they hadn’t stolen and sold off to make them worst in Europe.
    People wouldn’t think Nigel Farage has the best interests of British people just because UK is in UKIP, when he’s an ex banker who pays his foreign wife on tax payers expenses and was found to be hiding money in foreign tax havens.
    Somebody would ask people to look at USA section in supermarket, and see EU compliant labels over original USA ones, to see as they don’t have to label as much in USA then the food is more likely to contain junk. Reese’s Pieces alone contain GM ingredients and colourings which cause hyperactivity in children

  17. Benedict leVay

    well as is often the case with the Left, and sometimes the Right, the quoted article does (as far as I can see) not back up the headline. Yet again, we are in the dodgy territory of lying about lying because we want it to be true. Unless I missed it, the killer paragraph does NOT say ‘we lied’. It says we (Leave) wouldn’t have won with the £350M/NHS claim which this lot (London something) would present as as a lie. But 350 x 52 weeks is 18.2 billion. Wasn’t the recent pledge for increased spending £20bn? And even if it doesn’t, Brexit hasn;t happened yet. We’re respinning spin here. I’m an ardent Remainer but if you say ‘they admit they lied’, shouldn’t you put up the actual quote? The biggest lies were the ones we told ourselves – that all our problems or fears, about immigration, about over-regulation, about terrorism, about waste, about human rights insane interpretations, about stupid decisions – came from the EU. They didn’t. In every single case they came far more or entirely from our own government and ourselves. I can prove it again and again. I liked being part of Europe and didn’t feel any less British It enhanced life, but did not hinder or damage it.

  18. Specialists from the American University of Notre Dame conducted an amusing, but very instructive study – they checked how much the habit of influencing affects the general state of health. They gathered about 200 people aged from 18 to 71 and gave them a responsible task: for 10 weeks, half of the participants in the experiment had to speak the truth and only the truth, the other to behave as usual. That is, lying on the little things and embellishing reality on a grand scale.

    No wonder one of the favorite phrases of our beloved and mighty Dr. House: “All people lie.” And, as it turned out, in many respects, therefore, they often get sick. On the one hand, we know that lying is not good, but on the other, how can we live without harming ourselves and others. So there is a “cognitive dissonance” – that is, inconsistency in the brain between how it should be, and how it is. What affects not only the psyche, but also the general state of health.

  19. Jon

    “The piece, found here, is well worth reading but also falls victim to classic mansplaining of a complex issue”

    My word. The only thing sadder than unapologetic sexism is someone so weak that they’ve been convinced they should talk about their own sex that way.

  20. we know that lying is not good, but on the other, how can we live without harming ourselves and others. So there is a “cognitive dissonance” – that is, inconsistency in the brain between how it should be, and how it is. What affects not only the psyche, but also the general state of health

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