By Chris York
After a campaign promising a richer and generally more shiny Great Britain, the duo appeared shellshocked that they now had to deliver on all the grand promises they’d made.
Two years later, their faces fit the Brexit saga perfectly. Separate assessments from Whitehall and the Bank of England have painted a grim picture of the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the UK economy.
In a nutshell, the pound could plummet, inflation may soar and Britain’s growth would nosedive should we crash out of the bloc.
And to top it all off, this is currently causing a major rebellion within government, meaning the embattled PM is currently under attack by essentially the entire planet.
But surely the Brexiteers were right about something? Well…
THEN: The economy will be fine.
After we Vote Leave, there won’t be a sudden change that disrupts the economy.
Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, and Gisela Stuart
NOW: Credit where credit is due, they were more or less right about this. The referendum vote itself did not cause the catastrophic economic crash some had suggested, although the pound did suffer.
What they didn’t mention however, was what would happen after we Vote Leave – when the UK actually leaves the EU.
And according to the Bank of England it is not going to be pretty. Any scenario in which the UK leaves the block with no-deal or a disorderly Brexit will be detrimental to our economy, according to the governor of the central bank, Mark Carney.
In sum, a disorderly no-deal Brexit is a bigger threat to the UK economy than the catastrophic financial crash of 2008. More on the specifics later.
THEN: The NHS will be fine.
We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.
NOW: Boris Johnson’s infamous NHS battle bus, emblazoned with the promise of £350m a week extra for the health service, has been debunked to death but a list of Brexit promises wouldn’t be complete without it.
Without dwelling too long on it, perhaps the most entertaining moment in the saga was when Nigel Farage was annihilated on live TV by Susanna Reid mere hours after the UK voted in support of leaving the EU.
Reid quizzed Farage on whether he could guarantee the bold pledge promoted on the side of a much-photographed battle bus would be delivered on.
Farage responded simply: “No I can’t,” and added that it was a “mistake” of the official Vote Leave campaign to have made the claim in the first place.
Reid asked: “You’re saying, after 17 million people have voted for Leave based – I don’t know how many people voted on the basis of that advert, but it was a huge part of the propaganda – you’re saying that was a mistake?”
The Ukip leader defended his personal position, saying he had been “ostracised” by the official Leave campaign, adding: “As I’ve always done, [I] did my own thing.”
THEN: Ireland? Pah, it’ll be fine.
There will be no change to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Gisela Stuart
NOW: The Irish border issue has been one of the most intractable parts of Brexit negotiations and there’s still a chance it could bring down the government.
Theresa May’s Brexit deal, agreed with EU leaders, hasn’t pleased many in her own party and the Tories’ confidence and supply partners, the DUP.
This stems in large part from the deal’s backstop provision. The EU and UK hope to agree a trade deal that will avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but if they can’t, a backstop proposal will be triggered.
This backstop, if triggered, will keep the entire UK in a single customs territory with the EU.
The Northern Irish DUP, who prop up Theresa May’s government, say the backstop would see Northern Ireland adopt a different regulatory regime to Great Britain if a wider UK/EU trade deal fails to materialise. Crucially, on Sunday, DUP leader Arlene Foster said there were no circumstances under which her party would vote for the current deal.
A short clip of my interview with @AndrewMarr9
– Withdrawal Agreement is a bad deal for the UK.
– Does not let us take back control.
– Very little enthusiasm for the Withdrawal Agreement across the House of Commons.
– Time for a better deal. https://t.co/mHBCYQXuDS
— Arlene Foster (@DUPleader) November 25, 2018
THEN: Trade will be fine.
We would immediately be able to start negotiating new trade deals… which could enter into force immediately after the UK leaves the EU.
NOW: The most important trade deal the UK must negotiate once out of the EU is with the world’s biggest economy – the USA.
Unfortunately, the man in charge of that $20 trillion behemoth is Donald Trump, and he hasn’t exactly sounded promising in regards to Brexit so far.
Just this week the US president said May’s proposed Brexit deal may make trade between Washington and London more difficult.
Then, to really rub it in, he told reporters outside the White House on Monday the deal sounds like it will be good for the European Union.
“It sounds like a great deal for the EU. I think we have to look seriously at whether the UK is allowed to trade … if you look at the deal they may not be allowed to trade with us,” he said.
If we vote to leave then I think the union will be stronger… I think when we vote to leave it will be clear that having voted to leave one union the last thing people in Scotland wanted to do is to break up another.
Michael Gove, May 2016
NOW: Bit of a mixed bag this one – a survey earlier this month showed 60% of people in Scotland would vote to remain in the UK in a referendum, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second independence vote.
Elsewhere across another border, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price will today deliver a speech in which he will say Wales should be “a full member of the European Union”.
So, it’s more of a Kingdom than a United Kingdom.
THEN: Your wages will be fine.
Wages will be higher for working people outside the EU… because pay will no longer be undercut by uncontrolled migration.
Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Gisela Stuart, May, 2016
NOW: Back to those red lines we saw earlier – what they represent on a more granular level is the pound plummeting, inflation soaring, house prices crashing and the overall economy shrinking.
So even if you kept your job and somehow managed to get a pay rise, it would be cancelled out anyway and any savings you had would likely be negated by the drop in value of your home.
We will negotiate a UK-EU Treaty that enables us… to deepen cooperation in some areas [such as] counter-terrorism.
NOW: Security minister Ben Wallace warned a no-deal Brexit would leave both the EU and UK at greater risk.
He said on Thursday that leaving the bloc without an agreement would have a “real impact” on authorities’ ability to protect the public.
Perhaps most worrying though, according to the Police Federation the biggest threat after the UK leaves the EU will not be terrorists but ourselves as we all collectively lose the plot.
He added: “This is 2018, it’s the year people dialled 999 because KFC ran out of chicken. If that can happen, imagine what will happen if we start to see food or medical supply shortages.”
And if that wasn’t bad enough, there are 21,000 fewer police officers on the streets of the UK than in 2011 when riots rocked the country.
(Infographic supplied by Statista)