In a brilliant thread, Lewis Goodall injected facts into Boris Johnson’s otherwise unscrutinised new online propaganda machine.


First published in February 2020.

The answer to most of these questions is there will be no change whatsoever until the end of this year because we’ll still be in transition and after that we don’t know, because the actual Brexit deal hasn’t been worked yet.

But here are some factual answers.

◦ Is Boris Johnson pro or anti-Brexit?

Absolutely pro, though there is some evidence to suggest this was not the case in the past.

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Boris Johnson's support for EU revealed in Leon Brittan letter. / The Guardian

◦ Will Brexit affect my holiday?

Not this year but after that we don’t know, lots of details to be worked out on visas and health insurance, international driving licences and the like.

◦ Does Brexit make my passport expire?

No, but it will change what you can do with it. After next year you won’t be able to go and work with, or study in EU countries with the ease we can now.

◦ Will Brexit help farmers?

Again, the details of what will replace the EU farming regime are to be hammered out, certainly lots of farmers are worried about it. There’s a lot for DEFRA to do in a year. However, inevitably it will probably become harder to export to the EU market.

Likewise if the government signs trade deals which opens up UK agricultural markets to cheap imports that could damage UK farming. It is possible some benefits could arise from those deals in the other direction but details are few at the moment.

◦ Does Brexit help companies export?

Exporting to the EU will inevitably become harder from next year. At the moment it is as easy to export to Rome as it is to Rotherham. That will inevitably change. There may be some easing to other places but again, all to be confirmed.

◦ Will Brexit help fishing?

We don’t know. See above. It’s to be confirmed.

◦ Will Brexit help sovereignty?

It depends what you mean by sovereignty. For sure we will have more de jure sovereignty, Parliament will be the highest authority in the land again, laws will flow from it, it won’t (probably) be superseded.

On the other hand you might argue that given the EU will continue to have a lot of influence over our lives (but we’ll have no say in how they make their decisions) we’ll have less de facto sovereignty.

A point, as you can see, made by one Margaret Thatcher.

◦ Does Brexit stop foreign students?

No, Britain is a world leader in Higher Education, it’s one of our top exports, far beyond the EU. However, we don’t know the terms which will be given to EU/UK students studying in their respective territories. At the moment, it’s like for like. That will change.

In the video Boris Johnson says that Brexit “will mean we will continue to participate in fantastic schemes” which allow “our kids” to study in the EU and vice versa. But in fact, that is up in the air. The PM surely mean Erasmus, an EU scheme which promotes intra-EU study. However, the government is not totally committed to its continuation. The Department for Education says our participation will endure “if it’s in our interests to do so.”

Moreover, the government also whipped against a Commons amendment the other day which would have made continuation of Erasmus a government negotiating requirement. It was defeated 344 votes to 254.

53% of UK students who study abroad do so through the scheme.

The PM goes onto say we will have an Australian style points based immigration system. As I reported yesterday, that’s unlikely, at least it’s not likely we’ll have a full points based system by this time next year. These are more likely cosmetic points based elements grafted onto the existing system. Sources I spoke to in Whitehall were convinced that’s all that could be done in a year.

For more info, watch my report here:

So, some context for the PM’s video which, though some might find it charming, is rather lacking in concrete facts.

“People’s PMQs” have their limitations.


Tweets posted on 28 January 2020 by @lewis_goodall.


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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 5 February 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Screenshot of Boris Johnson during his ‘Peoples’ PMQs’.)