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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lies, damned lies and the European Referendum

With less than 24 hours left before polls open, it has all gone a bit Game of Thrones over here in Referendum UK. It is not quite as gory, but the leading figures of the Remain and Leave campaigns are fighting like a bunch of public schoolboys. Oh, wait a minute....!

The Telegraph's live blog of events records the insults being traded by both sides, summing up the reason why nobody believes a word either side is saying and why most people wish they would just go away and leave them alone. In fact, 10pm on Thursday cannot come quick enough.

It all started to go a bit crazy when Michael Gove invoked Godwin's Law and compared economic experts warning about Brexit to Nazis who smeared Albert Einstein’s scientific findings during the 1930s. I am not a big fan of economists myself but of course the big difference is that Einstein had a tenable thesis, whereas the Brexiteers just have speculation, and of course the economists in question are not in the pay of the government as the German scientists were.

This enabled David Cameron to have a pop at his erstwhile friend and colleague. He told LBC:

"Let me tell you what I think is the most extraordinary thing in the news today, and that is the Leave campaign, comparing these independent experts, businesses, economists, Nobel Prize winners to sort of Nazi propagandists.

"I think I’m afraid the Leave campaign here are making a massive mistake. If in our country, you know look at these people, some of them won Nobel Prizes, many of them are working for independent institutions we set up after the war. These businesses don’t normally come off the fence on an issue like this and speak so clearly. And I think when you’ve got that weight of opinion saying there’s a real risk to the British economy, to jobs, to families’ finances then it really is worth listening.

"And if we’re going to go to a world where we say, I’m not going to listen to experts, that’s an extraordinary thing to do."

And then Boris Johnson pitched in saying that the Michael Gove analogy comparing Remain-supporting economists to Nazi propagandists was okay. Cameron responded by suggesting that Gove had lost the plot only for the former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to change the subject by accusing Cameron of lying about Turkey's prospects of joining the EU.

Talking of Nazis, Nigel Farage was asked if he had apologised for his controversial "breaking point" immigration poster based on Nazi propaganda, only to deny that he had done so, despite suggestions by his party that he had.

And then Michael Gove apologised for his remarks about the war: "Yesterday I was asked a question by Iain Dale about the predictions of doom for the economy.

"I answered as I often do with a historical analogy. It was clumsy and inappropriate.

"Obviously I did not mean to imply anything about the motives of those who have spoken out in favour of staying in the EU.

"Throughout the campaign I’ve avoided making personal attacks, I'm sorry for speaking so clumsily, and apologise for giving offence.

"I think Britain will be more prosperous if we end our connection to the euro project and I should have answered this question directly."

Will Boris now apologise for defending Michael Gove's misplaced analogy?

I don't think I can take the suspense any longer. I am off to watch the football where at least England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are still in Europe. For now, at least.
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