For years on this blog I have painstakingly been documenting the Brexit saga – in more than 50 diagrams and more than 200 blog posts. I don’t know if anyone can really have described themselves as a Brexit expert back at the time of the referendum, but over the past 4 years that is, in some way, what I have become. Through a combination of knowledge of the EU before I started writing about Brexit, an ability to research, and sheer hard work to get to the bottom of all sorts of aspects of it, I have become some sort of an expert.

But why, actually, is it worth my while bothering? When the political editor of a national newspaper can write this:

This is not just pro-Brexit bullshit. It is an outright denial of reality. At least point 1. is partly true – but the notion of the Sunday Express not bemoaning what we have lost is a stretch. But it’s 2., 3. and 4. that are just plain ridiculous. The Deal the UK has struck with the EU has increased barriers to trade. The Deal does not keep trade with the EU at the level that it was. And whether economic growth in the EU is stagnant or not doesn’t matter – putting up barriers to trade with your nearest neighbours has a cost.

Now don’t get me wrong – there might be a justification for those costs or those barriers, because there might be wins elsewhere. But you cannot deny their very existence.

Does this stem from abject ignorance, or from malevolence? I can’t tell. It’s not a good look either way.

But sadly this has a real personal psychological cost – to me personally.

Here is a guy who hasn’t got the faintest sodding clue what’s actually happening as a result of Brexit… and he is the Political Editor of a UK Newspaper.

I am never in my life going to become the political editor of a newspaper. I am never in my life going to have the reach he does, the audience he does.

Why is it even worth my while trying to understand things, trying to explain things, researching this, trying to be careful with my words? When with enough chutzpah you can just blatantly either lie (or completely misunderstand) and nevertheless succeed to the extent I never will. And if it’s not David Maddox then it’d be Darren Grimes, Daniel Hannan or Tom Harwood. Or, with a little more cleverness, it’s Andrew Neil or Ben Judah.

Once in a while I have this dream of escaping this cycle of bullshit and leaving it all behind and move to Languedoc and grow grapes instead. Today is one of those days.


  1. Rosalind Stewart

    Jon, I have relied on your detailed analyses of the Brexit Horror Show for several years now, and I can honestly say that the public needs your blogs and tweets more than ever. After the Covid pandemic lifts, it will become increasingly obvious (and not in a good way) how bad this Brexit deal is, and how much bullshit the media has offered.

  2. Neil Botten

    Jon, Thank you so much for standing up to reality. I just hope that time will tell and we’ll be forced back, by a totally an eventually disenchanted electorate, into the EU before we become a third world state. I so agree with the earlier response from Anni about hedge funds.

  3. Thank you for the kind words everyone! It’s good to hear!

    • Jams O'Donnell

      Presumably you still have your post in the EU? So your knowledge of this esoteric and depressing subject can still be useful. Anyway, keep on keeping on. “Every mickle maks a muckle” as we say in Scotland (or at least, used to) 🙂

  4. Brexit is all about hedgefunds.

    CambridgeAnalytica was owned by Robert Mercer, a Canadian hedgefund billionaire.
    The Lord President of the Council owns a hedgefund.
    The Chancellor of the Exchequer co-owns at least one hedgefund.
    The Prime Minister is backed by hedgefunds & his Leadership bid sponsored by hedgefunds.
    The Conservative Party is funded by hedgefunds.

    And it carries on…

    • I have never known what to make of those theories. I am always more tempted to attribute the problems to incompetence than anything else.

  5. John Speed

    I fully understand your frustration, it is dreadfully annoying that people like David Maddox and Daniel Hannan who should show some inkling of understanding the issues just spout garbage, but rest assured your continuing efforts to cut through the nonsense and write insightful and original posts is very much appreciated.
    I have been following you since 2017, I think, and when I open my email inbox and see a communication from you it is the first thing I read. I have had some blogs posted on the UK in a Changing Europe site and I have referenced your posts in the process.
    So do keep up the good work. The Brexit saga still has years to run and must call out those who mislead, write nonsense, and continue to damage the the UK and the EU. I have lived and worked in Luxembourg since 1981 and am now retired, and naturalised, here but I still have family in the UK so I will keep on doing everything I can to mitigate the negative consequences of this historic mistake and to counter incorrect and misleading pronouncements and information.

  6. Thank you for your efforts in documenting the madness! My hope is that, if/as things deteriorate over time, this work means we’ll (a) have learned lessons from the past and (b) be able to produce a concrete roadmap for the way back to progress.

    Another comment mentioned Trump, now the Dems have the power it doesn’t seem clear what they’re going to do. Perhaps we can use our time in the wilderness to rethink the agenda and produce a real alternative based on the kind of rational thinking and analysis you’ve given. This kind of work should be the basis of that alternative.

    Or perhaps I’m just being a wild optimist; Languedoc does sound great…

  7. Niall Martin

    Thanks for that. I had come across the Maddox tweet, and found it totally confusing as to what he was driving.

  8. Gail Parker

    It is important. what you do, incredibly important. You will probably never change the views of those determined not, or too lazy, or too malevolent, to see. BUT it is important that people like you chronicle the facts and evidence.
    Also – and to me, most importantly – you might help people like me to understand. I know very little about politics, trade, even Europe. I thought I knew enough to understand my world view. It turns out that I didn’t, I was ignorant of a lot, way too much, and the real turning point at which my increasing unease broke out was with the referendum. Your blogs help me to understand, to look at evidence to question; all skills I should have strengthened way before now. And there are probably lots of people/voters like me. So, if your blogs can help all the many others like me to think about how we vote, what our votes mean, how to differentiate political rhetoric from facts, that will be much more important ultimately than persuading idiotic newspaper editors.

    • Thank you. And also I concluded I knew rather little as well. Sure, I knew how Brussels worked, but I did not know the impact of EU policies on the ground to the extent I do now. I hope that whatever I work on, post-Brexit, I will be able to deploy that knowledge!

  9. Victoria Anns

    I am not an expert, but I really appreciate voices that speak truth in an ocean of misinformation. Some people will just absorb whatever they see, but others really will be searching for truth. So thank you, Jon!

  10. Elizabeth

    A big part of the psychological cost is grief at the loss we have suffered. I used to think we were a liberal, progressive democracy and I have had that belief ripped away along with my rights as an EU citizen and the confidence I used to have in the economic wellbeing and future of my country. It’s a grief we are not allowed to talk about. Instead we are insulted and called remoaners and traitors by the bully boys which perpetuates the abuse they have inflicted upon us. I am sure many of us are showing signs of depression including apathy and hopelessness.

    • That’s true, although somehow – because I live in Germany and am insulated from the worst impacts of this on a day to day basis – I think I perhaps see it in a more abstract manner?

  11. Christopher Wicks

    I think many of us who share your views, who have made a reasonable attempt to rationalise the disaster of Brexit have had to deal with high levels of stress and anxiety. The inability to rationalise the irrational is always going to have an impact. Not dissimilar to banging your head against a brick wall. One day things will get better than they are now, but some years of pain will follow. It is like we are just starting the Trump presidency. For me I had to take a break with the dawn of 2021. Now we have become Greek residents (protected under the WA) changed our driving licences, reflagging a small boat to the Greek flag. I’ve finished with the UK with self imposed Brexile. I know I am one of the lucky ones, but at the end of the day you have to make a stand against things that are wrong but also look after yourself.

  12. Claudio VdA

    This is just a drop in the sea, but the sea itself is a sum of several drops.
    The whole Brexit saga was followed with interest by the Italian community of Eurobilltrackers. Important sources for the discussions were the Guardian, il Post (an Italian online newspaper focusing on international themes) and…
    Someone follows you on Eurobilltracker 😉

  13. Timothy Smyth

    II think it goes beyond the media into the think tank community. For example I just came across this white paper from the Atlantic Council that seems to be beyond desperate to NOT admit that France has a nuclear powered aircraft carrier(in fact the only country in the world other than the US). I don’t deny that there is a “history” to say the least of France’s involvement in NATO but this desperation NOT to admit to France’s military capability I think has to be viewed as something more sinister than just a mere oversight.

    BTW the author of this piece is actually an American like myself oddly enough.

  14. White_Rabbit

    Your hard work is worth A LOT because it is rationally AND practically true. But the world is not that much rational and we see what we want to see. Maybe u can feel better considering that most smart and honest people will side with you.
    Take care 🙂

  15. Hello Jon,
    1 st time i ve seen your blog,i share the feeling,not so much “denial of reality,”more like organised lying.
    For example Have had to argue for years that “unelected Brussels burocrats” are the Euro civil service and as in this country they are not elected (,apart from the president) , i am a builder and have no skin in the game apart from fact of being a citizen, and equally weary of the manifest bullshit which seems never ending.
    As Information has become also a commodity there should be a way ,maybe office /department for fact-checking ,with sanctions if information is false.
    one example, it should be illegal for a PM to claim” no border”in Irish sea when he has negotiated one.
    Keep up the good work don’t let the bastards get you down.

  16. Andrea Fairhurst

    Hi, I called Maddox out on this too and he promptly blocked me. It is soul-destroying to have called out these lies for years only for them to continue to prevail.

    Our government has damaged my metal health too. First it started with Michael Gove who, as Education Secretary, destroyed the job I loved by turning children into data and trying to turn teachers into machines. I got out. Then he turned his attentions to the UK and is now destroying that too. Like you, I have been trying to hold Ministers, MPs, MEPS, so called journalists and pundits to account since the referendum. I find it both disconcerting and distressing that my facts seem to mean nothing against their lies. There is no accountability and that really jars with me. Politicians should be held to the highest standards of all as their actions affect us all.

    I take heart in that we are not only doing the right thing but that reality is on our side. Lies can only last for so long until the truth that has been hidden breaks loose. The greater the lies the more earth-shattering the truth when it finally gets out. I do believe that Johnson, Gove, Baker and others will one day be held to account. By rights they belong in prison for fraud but people seem to think that won’t happen. I’d like to think that they will be forced to go to prison for their own good, such will be the rage from the people they lied to and stole from. That justice will need to be seen to be done so that the country can move on.

    In the meantime, I live in hope. I keep calling out the lies. I like to think our facts will one day prevent these politicians from claiming plausible deniability. We told the truth all along and they continued to lie in spite of it. They have no excuses, and – once people have had enough of their lies – nowhere to hide.

  17. Ian Erskine

    Jon, please be assured that all of your hard work, excellent analysis and truthful, accurate comment is not going to waste. The bums you mention in your blog are already looking at themselves in the mirror and quietly asking ‘What have I done?’ They won’t admit it publically of course but fear not, there will be an accounting at some point. Please keep up your great work, it is much appreciated.

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