Brendan O’Neill Brendan O’Neill

Voting ‘leave’ meant leaving the single market – and most voters knew it

The angrier, snootier sections of the Remain camp have done many bad things since 23 June. Some have suggested Brexit should be overthrown. Others have issued terrible libels against Leave voters, branding them ‘low information’ and xenophobic. Witness Nick Clegg in this Guardian video published this week having a good old laugh at Sheffield people who voted for Brexit after apparently falling for the ‘emotionally pungent’ claims of Leave leaders.

But worst of all has been their sly rewriting of history. They’re engaged in a campaign to misremember the referendum, to depict it as a time of lies and idiocy, of racism unleashed. They’ve cranked up the memory holes, sharpened their redacting pens, and set about imposing a kind of collective amnesia, using the tactics of Soviet ‘forgetters’ to rustle up a narrative that says the referendum moment was a mad one. But it wasn’t. Consider the irate response to Theresa May’s speech. Remainers’ loudest cry is that people didn’t vote to leave the single market, as May now says we will. ‘A reckless exit from the single market was not on the ballot paper,’ says Tim Farron. The public didn’t know that legging it from the single market was a possibility, observers insist. This is untrue; political amnesia. That Leave could, and very likely would, lead to withdrawal from the single market was a central talking point of the referendum. Michael Gove, one of the most senior figures on the Leave side, said it. Out loud. In May. Voting Leave would ideally mean Britain being ‘outside the single market but [having] access to it,’ he said. Other Leavers regularly slammed the single market. David Davis laid into the ‘burdens of the single market regulations’. Vote Leave’s campaign bumf was packed with criticisms. ‘[T]he single market does more harm than good,’ it said.

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