I have found Richard Barfield’s Brexit Fact base a very useful resource. One disadvantage is that it was in PDF format and updated sporadically. My last version is that of October 2017. It is very comprehensive and brings a great deal of information into one place. We at Progressive Pulse believe in experts and believe that the best decisions are made with the fullest knowledge of the facts.
The information is out there but often in many diverse places. It also suffers from two major problems. Firstly there was and still is a lot of deliberately misleading information out there. This is reinforced through self referential echo chambers and amplified through the disgraceful press in this country, with a few honourable exceptions including the Financial Times. The other issue is that there has been so much jingoism and rhetoric regarding Brexit that far too much heat rather than light has been generated – and still is.
More insidious perhaps is the use of language and sound bytes which seems almost Orwellian. This seems to have the sinister influence of shadowy right wing think tanks written all over it. A striking example was a recent article by Prof Gwythian Prins (of Buckingham and formerly the LSE) on the normally excellent The UK in a changing Europe. The opening line: One of the most striking features in the views of those ‘remainer’ few, still unreconciled to the straightforward and settled binary decision to leave the EU….. had alarm bells ringing immediately. There is a Golden Horseshoe award coined by Climate Change Scientists for the sentence with the greatest number of mis-truths. I can spot three immediately and a possible four. Firstly ‘remainer’ few’ when all the evidence shows the country is still divided 50-50, and if anything Remaiers are now in a slight majority. Secondly the use of the word straightforward to describe a project of mind boggling complexity (one of my rare agreements with David Davis is in his statement that it ‘as complicated as moon landing’). Thirdly the use of the word ‘binary’ indicating two states, whereas leaving the EU has so many possible endpoints, Norway(-), Switzerland, Canada(+), Ukraine, Turkey, WTO, Jersey bespoke cakeist deal etc. The use of the word binary is clearly totally inappropriate. Fourthly the use of the word ‘settled’ is rather strange. It comes across as an extremely gauche attempt to move the Overton Window. Of course there are thousands of such examples, but I was disappointed to see such a blatant attempt at psychological manipulation on a well respected site. Even the FT is not immune. An recent opinion piece by Ann Marie Trevelyan (Tory MP for Berwick – my neighboring constituency), is riddled with errors.
I have found Richard’s Fact base very useful and it does what it says on the tin; presents the facts as impartially as possible and is a major resource. It is very comprehensive covering:
- What is the EU?
- Sovereignty and law
- UK contribution
- Economic context
- Foreign direct investment
- Impact assessment
- Environment and climate change
- Education, science, healthcare
- Defence and security
- “No deal”.
- Referendum result analysis
- EU budget and UK contributions
- ONS definitions
- GVA data by industry sector
- EU trade agreements
- Tariff analysis
- Negotiation papers
- Trade statistics by country
Richard has now published his Fact base in web format. One has to register but with just a username password and email. Richard was initially thinking of charging after three months but has now decided it will funded by donations only. Richard states “the reason for simple registration is to allow users to be notified of updates to the website”.
I am very happy to promote this excellent resource. Richard has also stated that he is “Happy to answer questions and be available for comment if you write a piece”.
You can access Richard’s site by clicking on the image below.