“People knew exactly what they were voting for!”
Heard that lately? I am sure you have. If you didn’t catch Nigel Farage chipping in with it on GMB this week, then you will have heard Johnny Mercer MP say it, or Jacob Rees-Mogg or any number of MPs, MEPs, Brexit backers and twitter accounts repeat it. I’ve read it on Facebook, I’ve heard it on LBC and the BBC; I’ve seen it in letters to The Metro and been told it by Brexit backing family members and Brexit backing friends. And yet – two years on from the EU referendum currently the most Googled Brexit questions in Britain are: “what is Brexit” and “when is Brexit?”
When you consider that the governing party itself is currently in open civil war about what sort of Brexit we are going to have and what it will actually mean the idea that “people knew exactly what they were voting for” does seem to be – well – preposterous.
But surely Nigel Farage and that nice Jacob Rees-Mogg aren’t lying. They can’t have just made it up? There must be some basis of truth in the idea that ordinary Britons understood the multifaceted nature of our relationship with the EU and solemnly cast their votes carrying this weight of knowledge and the implications of leaving. I mean wasn’t simply everybody talking about the CU and the WTO for decades prior to June 2016?
My faith in both men is a matter of record on these pages and so to help prove Jacob and Nigel right I’ve devised a little test.
Fifteen fairly basic questions about the EU and our relationship (or possible) future relationship with it; get more than 60% right and you can probably quite rightly claim that you knew what you were voting for in June 2016. less than that and you should probably have stayed home with a nice mug of gin.
- Can you explain in one or two sentences what the Customs Union is – and what part Britain currently plays in it?
- What is a common external tariff?
- What are WTO rules?
- What is the CAP? How does it work?
- What proportion of our food is imported from the EU?
- What does “the single market” mean?
- How much – as a proportion of GDP expenditure – does membership of the EU cost the UK?
- What percentage of our trade overall do we conduct with the EU?
- True or False – the UK is a member of the Schengen agreement.
- Is the ECHR part of the EU? What is the ECHR?
- Which body decides on the design and shape of our passports?
- What is a Norway style deal?
- What is the EEA?
- What is EFTA?
- Can EU nationals be barred from entering the UK if they have a criminal record?
I’ll be honest. I would probably have failed to get 60% even in 2016 and so should most definitely not have been allowed to vote on something as complex as our membership of the European Union. How did you do?