Elite Remainers are the real fake-news merchants

The British media have, of late, been gripped by the fear of fake news. But they also love indulging in Brexit scare stories, many of which wouldn’t look out of place on Brasseye. Never mind the claim that Brexiteers were duped by Vote Leave’s bus: when it comes to believing the ridiculous, it’s elite Remainers who win the prize.

Take the news earlier this month that the Tories had voted to the effect that animals can’t feel pain. As the EU Withdrawal Bill was passing through parliament, a motion was put forward by Green MP Caroline Lucas to force the government to amend the bill so as to recognise animal sentience, in accordance with EU standards. Tory MPs voted against including the amendment, because such provisions are already in UK law.

Instead of reporting the facts, the Independent said that ‘the Tories have voted that animals can’t feel pain as part of the EU bill’. And the story soon went viral. Screeching ensued from the usual quarters. Bake Off luvvie Sue Perkins tweeted: ‘Shameful bastards, denying what is obvious – animal sentience. Let’s not take this one lying down. #resist.’ There was even a petition to re-home Larry, the Downing Street cat. All built on a myth: that the idea of animal sentience had been removed from the statute books.

Then there’s the idea that the Brexit result was really the work of ‘the Russians’, like something out of a bad spy novel. The idea is that us Brexiteers were swayed by social-media bots from the East, slipping propaganda into our feeds and malleable minds. And yet, according to a study from Swansea University and the University of California, Berkeley, the bulk of the 45,000 tweets sent by these bots were posted after polling stations had closed.

Finally, who could forget the big Brexit concern of the summer – that Brexit would mean Brits having to eat dodgy chicken. Many reported that, post-Brexit, the UK would start importing chlorinated chicken from the US, which is currently banned by the EU. But despite the constant implication that we’d be importing substandard and potentially unhealthy poultry, chlorinated chicken is fine. Even the EU admits it ‘does not present any risk to public health’. As Rob Lyons pointed out previously on spiked, if chlorine baths were dangerous, no one would go swimming.

(In any case, EU regulations are not foolproof. Earlier this year, Britain ended up with hepatitis-riddled pork products from the continent, causing around 60,000 Brits to come down with flu-like symptoms.)

So, depending on how gullible you are, you might have believed that Brexiteers were tricked by Russian plots, or were simply scheming for a way to be cruel to animals. Forget the stereotype of stupid Leave voters: all this anti-Brexit fake news should teach the well-to-do Remoaners who retweet it a bit of humility. Next time someone brings up that infamous bus, point them towards this article.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

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