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Michael Gove and Boris Johnson would happily wash their hands of their involvement in Brexit – if only they could work out how the soap dispenser works [Image: Getty].

Now that the EU referendum is long past, the truth can come out: The UK was never likely to be overwhelmed by millions of Turkish immigrants; the NHS will never receive a £350 million-a-week bonus from the Tories; and leaving the Single Market will do long-term damage to the UK economy. But ‘Leave’ supporters won’t accept it.

Why should they? Reality is what you say it is these days – at least until the hard economic facts muscle in on the Brexiteers’ fantasy world.

But that won’t happen for at least another two years – possibly longer if Theresa Mayfly gets the phased transition she wants.

Meanwhile, those of us who know what’s coming get tarred with the ‘Remoaner’ brush – even those who voted ‘Leave’ because it’s easier for these people – these ‘Brextremists’ – to insult us than it is for them to think for themselves.

They really don’t have any idea what they’re doing – but they don’t care.

For them, point-scoring is far more important than safeguarding the future of the country they pretend to love so much.

Vote Leave was certainly on the border between false and fake news. One of its posters claimed: “Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU.” Penny Mordaunt, a Defence Minister, claimed the Government would not be able to stop Turkish criminals entering the UK or to veto Turkey’s EU accession (the latter a downright lie). Gove warned that up to five million more EU migrants could come to Britain by 2030 because 88 million people would be granted the right to live and work here under EU plans to allow Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey to join it.

The ultimate piece of fake news was the claim that leaving would provide a £350m-a-week bonus for the NHS from the UK’s contribution to EU coffers. This was emblazoned on the side of the “Boris Battlebus”, cynically painted red to appeal to Labour voters. Fortunately, it cannot be airbrushed out of history and I am sure the image will re-emerge when the voters try to cash in their “NHS Brexit dividend.”  How the health service and social care could do with £350m a week now. It’s never going to happen.

Why does this matter now? Brexiteers claim that Theresa May has a mandate to take Britain out of the single European market, as she confirmed on Tuesday. Although some Outers said in media interviews during the campaign that quitting the EU would mean leaving the single market, it barely featured. As Dominic Cummings, who was Vote Leave’s campaign director and a long-standing Gove adviser, admitted last week: “Would we have won without immigration? No. Would we have won without…the NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests no. Would we have won by spending our time talking about trade and the single market? No way.”

It may yet prove a costly game for the British people. But you wouldn’t know that by reading the Brexit press; as if they still can’t believe they have won, Europhobic newspapers and hardline Brexiteers re-run the campaign. Those who call for a soft Brexit are denounced as “Bitter Remoaners” who want to obstruct the “will of the people” expressed in the referendum. May joined in by attacking people who want to “subvert democracy.” At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, she made clear that Parliamentary scrutiny of her Brexit strategy will be strictly limited. There will be no White Paper, and clarity will provided “at appropriate times” – in other words, whenever she chooses to. So much for Brexit restoring the sovereignty of the UK Parliament.

It is true that the warnings of an immediate hit to the economy have not materialised. Reading the Brexit press, you would think this is because the Remain camp’s Project Fear was based on a lie. It accuses Mark Carney, the Bank of England Governor, of “eating humble pie” by admitting that the economy is doing better than expected. It never mentions his statements that this might have something to do with the Bank’s emergency measures after the referendum.

Many economists have not changed their view that Brexit will inflict long-term damage, a view that will harden now that we are heading out of the single market.

Source: Fake news handed Brexiteers the referendum – and now they have no idea what they’re doing

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