RAAB ACCUSED OF ‘MISLEADING PUBLIC’ OVER NO DEAL CLAIMS - People's Vote

RAAB ACCUSED OF ‘MISLEADING PUBLIC’ OVER NO DEAL CLAIMS

Former Foreign Office minister Ben Bradshaw MP has written to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, accusing him of misleading the public by claiming he and other Leave campaigners frequently raised the possibility of a disastrous No Deal during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The letter states:

“As a former minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I know full-well the importance and the prestige of the job you have been given. Those who have held the role of Foreign Secretary in our modern history have, with occasional exceptions, advanced the UK’s national interest and soft power and commanded a reputation around the world for competence, honesty and integrity.

“Unfortunately, your pronouncements since taking the job just a few days ago risk bringing this great office of State into disrepute. I was astonished to hear you claim on the BBC’s Today programme on Monday 29th July that the prospect of a No Deal exit from the European Union was widely discussed and considered a realistic prospect during the 2016 EU referendum. You must know this is simply not true.

“You sat on the Vote Leave Campaign Committee – supposedly the “governing body” that “set the campaign strategy” – and appeared many times in the media as a spokesperson, and yet there appears to be no evidence at all of you ever suggesting that leaving the EU without a deal was a likely or possible outcome. Indeed, whenever the question was put to you, you suggested the opposite – you claimed that a new, better deal would be negotiated with the EU if people voted to leave. You said the UK would “of course” retain a strong trading relationship with Europe and would likely get “a bespoke deal” and stated “the idea that Britain would be apocalyptically off the cliff edge if we left the EU is silly.”

“This is not a subject for debate, it is a matter of public record. For you to now try and claim a democratic mandate for No Deal, despite failing to discuss the possibility of such an outcome during the referendum, is deeply dishonest and demeans the office of Foreign Secretary. 

“I therefore seek your response to the following three questions:

  1. Do you accept that your claim on the Today programme that No Deal was widely discussed as a possible outcome by Leave campaigners during the 2016 referendum was incorrect?
  2. Will you apologise for misleading the public over this issue?
  3. Will you agree that there is no mandate for No Deal and that the only way to give legitimacy to such an outcome would be to ask the public if it is what they want in a People’s Vote?

“I look forward to receiving your prompt reply.”

 

Additionally, Ian Murray MP, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, has said he will raise this issue with the Foreign Secretary when he appears before the committee. Mr Murray said:

“Dominic Raab is continuing the example set by the new Prime Minister of flatly misleading the public when he claims No Deal was discussed as a realistic outcome by Leave campaigners including himself during the 2016 referendum. It is an insult to the great office of British Foreign Secretary that he holds to twist the truth in this way, and he must be held to account.

"When he appears before the Foreign Affairs committee on which I sit, I will be asking him about this issue in detail, and I will insist he provides me with specific examples of when he or other Leave campaigners argued in favour of a disastrous No Deal or suggested it would be a likely outcome from a vote to leave the EU. I will also demand at the next and future meetings that he apologises for every job and livelihood lost as a result of his and his colleagues blatant lies.

"It's vitally important that the British people hear the truth from senior members of their Government, and when they fall short, as Dominic Raab has in this case, they must be held to account.”

/ends

 

Notes to editors

The full copy of the letter is below:

 

Dear Foreign Secretary,

As a former minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I know full-well the importance and the prestige of the job you have been given. Those who have held the role of Foreign Secretary in our modern history have, with occasional exceptions, advanced the UK’s national interest and soft power and commanded a reputation around the world for competence, honesty and integrity.

Unfortunately, your pronouncements since taking the job just a few days ago risk bringing this great office of State into disrepute. I was astonished to hear you claim on the BBC’s Today programme on Monday 29th July that the prospect of a No Deal exit from the European Union was widely discussed and considered a realistic prospect during the 2016 EU referendum. You must know this is simply not true. 

You sat on the Vote Leave Campaign Committee – supposedly the “governing body” that “set the campaign strategy” – and appeared many times in the media as a spokesperson, and yet there appears to be no evidence at all of you ever suggesting that leaving the EU without a deal was a likely or possible outcome. Indeed, whenever the question was put to you, you suggested the opposite – you claimed that a new, better deal would be negotiated with the EU if people voted to leave. You said the UK would “of course” retain a strong trading relationship with Europe and would likely get “a bespoke deal” and stated “the idea that Britain would be apocalyptically off the cliff edge if we left the EU is silly.” 

Nor is there any record of your colleagues within Vote Leave regularly arguing that No Deal was a possibility. On the contrary, there are countless examples of both the campaign itself – which said “We will negotiate the terms of a new deal before we start any legal process to leave” – and its other key spokespeople saying that a vote to leave would result in a new deal with Europe and a continuation of free trade.

This is not a subject for debate, it is a matter of public record. For you to now try and claim a democratic mandate for No Deal, despite failing to discuss the possibility of such an outcome during the referendum, is deeply dishonest and demeans the office of Foreign Secretary.

I therefore seek your response to the following three questions:

  1. Do you accept that your claim on the Today programme that No Deal was widely discussed as a possible outcome by Leave campaigners during the 2016 referendum was incorrect?
  2. Will you apologise for misleading the public over this issue?
  3. Will you agree that there is no mandate for No Deal and that the only way to give legitimacy to such an outcome would be to ask the public if it is what they want in a People’s Vote?

 

I look forward to receiving your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Bradshaw MP