George Osborne, David Icke and Brexit Conspiracy Theories: Fact or Rhetoric?

Britain’s upcoming referendum on European Union (EU) membership has stirred up hostilities within the UK’s Conservative ranks. Just last month Chancellor George Osborne attacked members of his own party for creating “conspiracy theories” about Vote Remain, a broad coalition of economic and political proponents who favour Britain’s continued membership of the EU.

Mr. Osborne accused the Vote Leave campaign’s labeling of economic warnings about Brexit as a “massive conspiracy,” reminding his opponents that economists and market experts are in general agreement about the fate of the British economy should Leave come out on top.

“That’s everyone from Mark Carney to Christine Lagarde to Barack Obama to the entire editorial team at ITV to the staff at the IMF and OECD, to hundreds of economists, to a majority of leaders of small, medium and large firms – they think they are all part of some global stitch-up to give misinformation to the British people,” Mr. Osborne provocatively said last month, referring to the various proponents who back Britain’s continued place in the EU.

“The next thing we know, the Leave camp will be accusing us of faking the moon landings, kidnapping Shergar and covering up the existence of the Loch Ness monster.”[1]

David Icke – arguably the world’s most renowned conspiracy theorist – certainly is no stranger to the topics of faked moon landings, the Loch Ness monster or plots of world domination. Earlier this year Mr. Icke came out in favour of Brexit, signaling perhaps that the Chancellor’s recent comments weren’t so off-base.

To be fair, Mr. Icke has raised some good points about Brexit, not to mention Prime Minister David Cameron’s massive push to keep Britain in the EU. In a series of posts on his website. Icke referred to the EU as a “dictatorship,” urging fellow Britons not to waste their vote on 23 June. Icke also said Mr. Cameron’s new deal purportedly giving Britain special status within the EU was “completely absent” of any real reform.

“My first impression is that David Cameron has not obtained the ‘unique’ status which he promised to extract from Brussels to mollify those who favour continued membership under a looser arrangement,” Icke said, before comparing Cameron unfavourably to Margaret Thatcher in the run-up to invasion of the Falklands.[2]

Brexit conspiracy theorists have also been closely following Justice Minister Michael Gove, whom they believe is actually conspiring to keep Britain in the EU. Back in April Mr. Gove delivered a speech backing Brexit and dismissing many of the fearmongering tactics he said were being used by the Remain camp. In doing so, however, he said Britain is not obliged to conclude its membership of the EU within any specific timeframe, suggesting that a Leave vote would not carry force right away. In fact, there is “no requirement” for when the new arrangement would need to occur.

Mr. Gove’s comments suggested that a Leave vote might not be final, and could take several years (or even longer) to pan out. His comments contrasted sharply with David Cameron’s assertion that his government would invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty immediately after the Leave vote succeeded.[3]

Article 50 essentially refers to the formal process of withdrawing from the 28-member EU. This process was presented to UK Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in February.[4]

As one of the world’s most powerful institutions, the EU is a prime target of conspiracy theorists. It represents one of the most tangible examples of a global government wielding tremendous power and influence. As a supranational institution, it is believed by many to be encroaching on the national boundaries of sovereign European states, replacing their values and interests with something more destructive. The European Union is routinely mentioned in any discussion of the New World Order, which refers to the emergence of a global shadow government run by the elite. It doesn’t take a very big imagination to guess what their agenda might be.

For Brexit voters who are more inclined to believe in the New World Order, voting out of the super bloc on Jun 23 is a no-brainer. For them, it comes as no surprise that the likes of US President Barrack Obama or International Monetary Fund President Christine Lagarde are warning voters against leaving the EU.

The vote on June 23 has been described as one of the most pivotal events in UK’s recent history. A vote out of the EU could have potentially devastating consequences on the pan European project itself. The rise of nationalist parties throughout the continent will no doubt feel emboldened by Britain’s exit, which could lead to other referendums on the EU question. This contagion effect has been long feared by EU proponents, and was one of the main reasons behind last year’s push to keep Greece solvent and part of a unified Europe.

A shock telephone poll recently gave the Leave campaign a narrow lead for the first time. The latest ICM survey for The Guardian gave Leave a four-point lead of 52% to 48%. In response, bookies have been flooded with Brexit bets. According to one source, 80% of gamblers are betting on Brexit, something that would have seemed unheard of just a few weeks ago when Vote Remain was in the lead.[5]

[1] Michael Wilkinson (May 16, 2016). “EU referendum: George Osborne accuses Tory rivals of ‘conspiracy theories’ as Boris Johnson accuses Chancellor of ‘talking down’ Britain.” The Telegraph.

[2] Graeme Demianyk (February 2, 2016). ‘EU Referendum: Conspiracy Theorist David Icke Backs ‘Brexit’.” Huffington Post.

[3] Jeremy Wilson (April 19, 2016). “There’s a weird Brexit conspiracy theory that Michael Gove is a Remain double agent.” Business Insider UK.

[4] HM Government (February 2016). The process for withdrawing from the European Union.

[5] The Week (June 3, 2016). “EU referendum poll shock fails to shift bookies’ Brexit odds.” The Week.

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