Twittersphere twaddle

Placard at the People’s Vote March in June 2018. Photo © Clive Dellard.

I spend far too long on Twitter and Facebook these days. Seeking out people who support Brexit in the hope of sowing a seed that may make them look differently at what it means.

When you get deep into Brexit groups, however, you become aware there’s quite a machine pumping out false information which is being shared and cheered on by ‘followers’ without question.

The big theme over the last few months has been the Lisbon Treaty and how it will change the EU in the coming years. There are some absolute doozies being told about that.

For instance:  According to leavers, the Treaty of Lisbon means that by 2022, the UK will have to adopt the Euro. Reality? Not true. The UK has opted out of the EURO and there is nothing in any treaty to change that.

Or: By 2022, the UK will have to join Schengen. Reality? Nope. The UK has opted out of Schengen and there is nothing in any treaty to change that…either.

Or this one: By 2020, UK will have to become a federal state of the EU.

Reality? Ummm…no mention of this or anything close. You’re getting the picture.

Overall, the years 2020 and 2022 are stated by leavers in connection to many, many changes as a result of the Lisbon Treaty (which, by the way, has been in operation for a decade already) and yet, a simple search shows, neither of these dates are even mentioned in the treaty, let alone the claims.

Beyond the Lisbon Treaty, another classic endlessly doing the rounds is, “We are living under EU laws that are forced upon us.” Thankfully, in the last few days, a chap call Jim Grace (@mac_puc on twitter) has decided to finally debunk this myth.

He starts by acknowledging that it was the leave campaign that identified that we have been ‘forced’ to adopt 72 EU laws. Essentially, 72 laws (out of more than 4,500) that we voted against but are now using.

He’s gone on to look at what these laws were. They include requirements such as the use of the word ‘Aspartine’ on food labelling (in fact, labelling seems to have received our wrath more than any other area). They also include the ban on certain carcinogenic substances in animal growth boosters (yes, we voted against that!). And we also voted against the requirement for airlines to pay compensation for delayed flights. Really!

Overall, the laws we have been ‘forced’ to take have either been minor or ones that, in the end, we are pretty happy with.

It doesn’t matter what Jim or I say, though, there are many who will never be swayed from their beliefs that the EU is the end of the world. It’s those that are still open to facts that we need to reach…but before they’ve been fed and fallen for the twaddle being put out there.

Rebecca Hilliard