The Brexit that was promised to voters in 2016 is not the Brexit that is being delivered.

Two years ago, those who advocated leaving the EU said it would be easy to retain all the benefits of EU membership, and at the same time secure a raft of new trade deals, deliver more jobs across the UK and magically produce a £350 million a week dividend for the NHS.

Since then, rather than being straight with the British people and admitting that these promises can’t be kept, some ministers have continued to make unrealistic and often contradictory claims. It has been said that the UK can retain the ‘exact same benefits’ in our frictionless trade with Europe, and that a new comprehensive trade deal with the EU will be completed by 29 March 2019.

Today, the Brexit being debated looks a million miles away from what was promised. Instead, it looks like all we will have is a very expensive Withdrawal Agreement, with all the major decisions about the future relationship with Europe – including on customs, trade, immigration and payments for market access – postponed until after we are due to have left. It is a deal that would see the UK become a rule taker, following rules and regulations made by the EU but with no say over them.

As the Prime Minister heads to Brussels for a key summit of EU leaders, the People’s Vote campaign challenges the Government to spell out the reality. It is time to explain that, far from the ‘sunlit uplands’ the public were promised, the Brexit we are heading for will be bad for Britain.

As the public wait for clarity about what any Brexit deal – or no deal – will mean for them and their families, they will be reminded of what has been promised by those who advocated – and those who are delivering – Brexit. This document sets out those promises, in their own words. They promised the British people their Brexit would…

  1. Have the “exact same benefits” as we get from EU membership
  2. Be fully negotiated by March 2019
  3. Produce a dividend from Europe worth £350m per week for our NHS
  4. Result in new trade deals from day one after leaving
  5. Deliver more jobs and higher wages across the UK
  6. Mean no payments for access to the Single Market
  7. Ensure an end to free movement in March 2019
  8. Fully protect the integrity of the United Kingdom
  9. End austerity
  10. Mean a complete end to EU rules and regulations from March 2019

It seems increasingly clear that these promises made to the British people will not – and in all likelihood cannot – be kept.

But that doesn’t mean they can be ignored. They are the benchmarks against which any Brexit deal must be judged. And if these promises are not kept, the country has every right to ask whether it really wants to proceed.

David Lammy MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Jo Swinson MP



1. The exact same benefits as we get from EU membership

  • “The idea that our trade will suffer…is silly” –Vote Leave, What Happens When We Vote Leave

  • “After we Vote Leave, British businesses will trade freely with the EU.” – Vote Leave, June 2016

  • “Our trade will almost certainly continue with the EU on similar to current circumstances…The reality is that the hard-headed, pragmatic businessmen on the continent will do everything to ensure that trade with Britain continues uninterrupted.” – David Davis, 26 May 2016|

  • “What we have come up with […] is the idea of a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have.” – David Davis, 24 January 2017

  • “It will be a different relationship, but I think it can have the same benefits in terms of that free access to trade” – Theresa May, 29 March 2017


2. Fully negotiated by March 2019

  • “Given that all the big issues have already been solved over the years between the EU and countries around the world, and there is already a free trade zone stretching from Iceland to the Russian border, the new UK-EU Treaty should be ready within two years.”Vote Leave, What Happens When We Vote Leave?

  • “I believe that we can get a free trade and customs agreement concluded before March 2019.” - David Davis, 18 January 2017

  • “The point of the implementation period is to put in place the practical changes necessary to move to the future partnership, and for that you need to know what the future partnership is going to be.” - Theresa May, 23 October 2017

  • "There can be no withdrawal agreement without a precise future framework." - Downing St Spokesperson, 8 October 2018

  • "There's no question of any kind of blindfold Brexit." - Dominic Raab, 9 October 2018


3. A Brexit dividend worth £350m per week for our NHS

  • “We send about £350 million to Brussels every week… All this money could be better spent on the UK’s priorities, like the NHS, schools, and fundamental science research.” – Vote Leave, 2016

  • “If we Vote Leave on 23 June, we can not just reduce the pressure on the NHS, but can stop sending £350m to the EU every week and instead spend it on our priorities.” – Vote Leave, 2016

  • “Let’s imagine what else this money could buy: state of the art hospitals”. – Vote Leave, 2016


4. New trade deals from day one after leaving

  • “After we Vote Leave, we would immediately be able to start negotiating new trade deals with emerging economies and the world’s biggest economies (the US, China and Japan, as well as Canada, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, and so on), which could enter into force immediately after the UK leaves the EU.” – Vote Leave press release, 15 June 2016

  • “Now the new trade agreements will come into force at the point of exit from the EU, but they will be fully negotiated and therefore understood in detail well before then.” – David Davis, 14 July 2016

  • “I hear people saying 'Oh we won't have any [free trade agreements] before we leave'. Well believe me we'll have up to 40 ready for one second after midnight in March 2019.” – Liam Fox, 2 October 2017


5. More jobs across the UK

  • “We will carry on trading with Europe but we will also be able to negotiate trade agreements with other countries. This will help our economy grow and create more jobs.” – Vote Leave, June 2016

  • “When we Vote Leave we will be able to do trade deals with all of these countries much more quickly. According to the EU’s own figures this will create 284,000 new jobs in the UK”.  – Vote Leave press release, 12 May 2016
  • “We’ll have more money to spend on our priorities, wages will be higher and fuel bills will be lower.” – Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Gisela Stuart, 31 May 2016


6. No payments for access to the Single Market

  • “It should be win-win for us and it will be if we vote to leave and we can maintain free trade, stop sending money and also have control of our borders.” – Michael Gove, 8 May 2016

  • “What is important is that when we leave the EU, people want us to ensure that it is the British Government that decide how taxpayers’ money is spent.” – Theresa May, 19 Dec 2016

  • “We will not be paying for market access” – Prime Minister’s Spokesperson, 11 January 2018

  • “We would not expect to pay for access to their markets any more than they would expect to pay for access to ours.” – Boris Johnson, 17 September 2017

7. An end to free movement in March 2019

  • “As we leave the EU, free movement will end.” – Dominic Raab, 18 July 2018

  • “When we leave the European Union, free movement, which has been one of the pillars of the EU, will end.” – Theresa May, 5 March 2018

  • “Free movement will end in March 2019.” – Government spokesperson, 31 July 2017

  • “I’m clear that there is a difference between those people who come prior to us leaving and those who will come when they know the UK is no longer a member.” – Theresa May, 1 February 2017


8. Fully protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom

  • “If we vote to leave then I think the union will be stronger.” – Michael Gove, 8 May 2016

  • “[O]ur guiding principle must be to ensure that – as we leave the European Union – no new barriers to living and doing business within our own Union are created.” – Theresa May, 17 January 2018

  • “We have been clear that we will see no return to a hard border under any circumstances.” – Dominic Raab, 9 October 2018


 9. An end to austerity thanks to Brexit

  • “If we vote to leave, we will be able to spend the £350 million we send to Brussels every week on our priorities like the NHS, schools, and fundamental science research. Many cuts would be unnecessary if we saved the money wasted on the EU.” – Vote Leave, June 2016

  • “There is more than enough money to ensure that those who now get funding from the EU - including universities, scientists, family farmers, regional funds, cultural organisations and others - will continue to do so while also ensuring that we save money that can be spent on our priorities.” – Vote Leave press release, 14 June 2016

  • “So, when we've secured a good Brexit deal for Britain, at the Spending Review next year we will set out our approach for the future. […] Because, a decade after the financial crash, people need to know that the austerity it led to is over and that their hard work has paid off.” – Theresa May, 4 October 2018


10. A complete end to EU rules and regulations from March 2019

  • "Our laws will be made not in Brussels but in Westminster. The judges interpreting those laws will sit not in Luxembourg but in courts in this country. The authority of EU law in Britain will end... [W]e are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice." – Theresa May, 2 October 2016

  • “The authority of EU law in this country has ended forever…We are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the ECJ. That’s not going to happen” – Theresa May, 5 October 2016

  • “The simple truth is we are leaving. We are going to be outside the reach of the European court” – David Davis, 14 May 2017

  • "I mean firstly in 2019 we will leave. We’ll come out from under the jurisdiction and the law-making of the European Union." – David Davis, 24 September 2017