The threat of no-deal was a hoax

Ladies and gentlemen, we are being played. Until voters properly and fully understand that, our political masters will be the winners and the electors – of whichever side of the argument – will be lost.

Many rallied and railed against a no-deal Brexit. The precipice of the cliff-edge looked terrifying, and ever-the-optimist Boris Johnson was saying it’ll be fine, we don’t need a deal with the EU to do well. Many were telling me that no-deal was it; that’s what is going to happen, and it will be terrible.

Last autumn, the European Movement UK – which describes itself as the country’s largest pro-European Network – launched a massive lobbying campaign called #NO2NODEAL. Thousands of activists, in constituencies across the UK, held virtual meetings with their MPs to raise concerns about “the effects that a No Deal Brexit could have on communities, local businesses, and the NHS”.

They played into the government’s game. So many of us did.

An old trick

It’s an old trick. Tell the people the worst-case-scenario looks probable, then sense the relief when it’s avoided – with something that’s also terrible, but not so terrible, so people don’t mind so much.

As Tom Kibasi wrote for The Guardian:

“The threat of a no-deal Brexit has always been a hoax – and it has been one of the most successful deceptions in British political history”.

He added:

“It was never a real option but has systematically lowered domestic expectations for a deal and allowed the government to avoid any serious scrutiny.

“Boris Johnson played the role of no-deal madman with aplomb, as if he had been born for it. Which of course he believes he was”.

And the purpose? “No deal was never a credible threat to the EU, but rather a powerful force to shape domestic politics.”

And the reality? “The real policy of the government has been that any deal is better than no deal. The deal that has been struck is a lopsided agreement that secures the EU’s economic interests while undermining ours.”

And the result? “The pro-Brexit British press is triumphant, hailing Johnson as some kind of hero. There is no reflection of reality in much reporting: the stronger party has secured most of its objectives, while the weaker party has accepted what it must. Even serious analysts pull their punches by prefacing their analysis with various formulations of ‘while it is better than no deal’. After a terrible year, most of the public simply feel relieved.”

We’ve all been fooled

I concur with Tom (former director of the Institute for Public Policy Research). We’ve all been fooled. I’ve been fooled. And probably you, too.

The country was made to fear the prospects of a disastrous no-deal to such an extent, that the palpable relief of getting a deal – any deal, even though it really is a terrible deal – has made it more acceptable.

And I agree with Tom Kibasi’s conclusion:

“Misguided politicians think that voting through the deal will bring closure. But it simply reveals how disconnected Westminster is from reality.

“The deal will be costly for business and inconvenient and undignified for Britons travelling to the continent. It will create new tensions with Northern Ireland.

“And, with a ‘review’ set for 1 January 2025, it will feature in the next general election, because Johnson wants it to.

“You may think Britain is done with Brexit. But Brexit isn’t done with Britain.”

Voters are victims

What can we learn from this? An important lesson.

Voters are victims, not villains. We’re all being cleverly fooled by recent Tory governments. We’ve been easily conned. People were getting so fed-up with Brexit that “Get Brexit Done” – any kind of Brexit – looked attractive to millions of voters.

Who stopped to ask what kind of Brexit was to be done? Who cared? The country – or so it seemed – just wanted it done and over with.

The fact is that no voters ever endorsed the Brexit we’ve now got, a catastrophic Brexit, on top of a devastating covid pandemic. A pandemic in which ‘the people’ are also being played as if we were all guinea pigs in a cruel psychological experiment, with so many mixed messages, that if there is any intended outcome, confusion and chaos can be the only conclusion. (On this, please read Alastair Campbell’s analysis, “The Brexit revolutionaries have barely begun. Britain needs to wake up fast”. An article that explains why confusion and chaos ARE the intended outcomes of the masters now manipulating us for one goal: to achieve a hard-right Britain owned by the super-rich.)

Voters, stop being fooled, divided and used by those in charge. They want us to blame each other. It helps their cause. It sets us apart, and that makes it easier to achieve their goals.

Voters of Britain unite!

The real, longer-term issue is not Brexit, nor covid. It’s about what kind of country Britain is to become – and is becoming.

That’s the urgent question that our political masters don’t want voters to have the chance to answer, let alone to properly consider.


  • Commentary and graphic by Jon Danzig
  • Jon Danzig is a campaigning journalist and film maker who specialises in writing about health, human rights, and Europe.
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