WORLD EU claims UK voters 'misled' before Brexit


EU claims UK voters 'misled' before Brexit

China Daily

22:46, February 18, 2022

A worker crosses London Bridge, with Tower Bridge seen behind, during the morning rush-hour, in the City of London financial district, London, Britain, Jan 4, 2022. (Photo: Agencies)

Pro-Brexit United Kingdom politicians have bristled at European Union claims British voters did not know what they were doing when they backed leaving the bloc in the 2016 referendum.

The European Parliament made the claim on Wednesday, in a report about the process of exiting the bloc; triggering a backlash from Brexit-backing politicians who insisted voters made their marks with eyes wide open.

The report on the Article 50 process, through which member nations can leave the bloc, included a claim the EU could have swung the result in 2016 in favor of the UK remaining a member.

It said: "British citizens had scant knowledge about the European Union and were not adequately informed about the far-reaching consequences of the decision to leave the union."

The Brexit-backing Telegraph newspaper said on Thursday a UK government source had told it: "Being lectured on transparency by the European Parliament shows just how little many in the EU have learnt from Brexit."

The unnamed source said the EU should stop criticizing UK voters for taking "a legitimate decision" to "take back control from Brussels".

"They should focus their efforts in areas where the UK and EU can work together," the source added.

The EU report also claimed the bloc triumphed in negotiations about a divorce agreement. And it said the UK government was ill-prepared for life outside the EU.

Lawmakers in the European Parliament supported the document by a majority of 516 votes.

MEPs also agreed to make it harder for nations to leave in future, with any referendums being non-binding and subject to a confirmatory vote if the two sides fail to agree a divorce deal.

Britain's Daily Express newspaper said the report conveyed regret the EU did not actively try to persuade UK voters to vote to remain within the bloc.

The British politician Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was a leader of the campaign to take the UK out of the EU and who is now Britain's Brexit opportunities minister, told the BBC the nation made the right decision.

And he insisted plummeting export volumes are more to do with the novel coronavirus pandemic than the extra taxes and red tape businesses are encountering.

"We've had containers simply being stuck in the wrong place, being stuck in Chinese ports, being stuck in the port of Los Angeles," he said. "This has been a global trade issue … I think Brexit has been extremely beneficial for the country."

However, the Office for Budget Responsibility, a non-departmental public body funded by the UK Treasury, disagreed, saying Brexit had clearly dented UK trade.

Since leaving the EU's single market in January 2021, UK exports to the EU have fallen by 12 percent and imports have fallen by 20 percent.

The organization said the vast majority of those falls were down to Brexit.

And the UK Parliament's public accounts committee said in a report this week trade has clearly been "suppressed" because of Brexit, the pandemic, and global economic problems, although it said the extent of damage caused by each is difficult to quantify.

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