Cameron Claims Brexit Project Fear Dodgy Dossier Is Nothing Short Of Being ‘Project Fact’

Project Fear
Peter Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The government has been accused of ramping up Project Fear with the publication of a dossier warning of ten years of uncertainty and turmoil should the British people vote to leave the European Union in June.

Yet the Prime Minister has insisted that he’s merely running “Project Fact”, while the Mayor of London has retorted that he’d rather he run “Project Hope”.

The 25 page document, inconspicuously titled “The process for withdrawing from the European Union” claims to set out the process for leaving the European Union in the event that the British people vote to do so, but goes on to list a litany of horrors that await the unlucky British people should they dare to take that option.

Among the dire warnings are suggestions that negotiations to leave could take a whole decade, leaving British citizens living in within the European Union member states in limbo and ending the freedom of Britons to travel freely and access medical care across the EU.

It also warns that new trade deals replacing those agreed via the EU could take years to put in place, leaving Brits facing sky-high tariffs on everyday goods including 30 percent on sugar, 20 percent on alcohol and cigarettes, and 15 percent on cereals.

The document even seems to suggest that the British people shouldn’t vote to leave as they may then discover that they can’t: “The rules for exit are set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This is the only lawful route available to withdraw from the EU,” it says.

“But the process is unprecedented. No country has ever used Article 50 – it is untested. There is a great deal of uncertainty about how it would work. It would be a complex negotiation requiring the involvement of all 27 remaining EU Member States and the European Commission.

“Before negotiations could even begin, the European Commission would need to seek a mandate from the European Council (without the UK present). The withdrawal agreement would also require the consent of the European Parliament.”

Putting aside matters of sovereignty, it adds: “Uncertainty during the negotiating period could have an impact on financial markets, investment and the value of the pound, and as a consequence on the wider economy and jobs.”

The document was immediately slammed by ministers who favour a British exit from the EU, who accused the government of fearmongering.

Cabinet minister Chris Grayling told the Guardian: “People will not be impressed with this relentless campaign of fear. Claims that it will take twice as long to sort out a free trade deal with the EU as it did to win world war two are clearly ludicrous. There’s a free trade zone from Iceland to the Russian border and Britain will still be part of it after we Vote Leave.

He added: “The in campaign claims we have no real choice other than giving away more power and money to the EU every year. It isn’t true. The real uncertainty is voting to stay in an EU which is already struggling with the euro crisis, the migration crisis, and a youth unemployment crisis. It is safer to take back control and spend our money on our priorities.”

Even the BBC, which is normally a flag-waver for Brussels, cast doubt on the dossier’s claims, noting during a fact-check on the document: “it is worth remembering the government is not impartial: it is committed to making the case for the UK to stay in the European Union and so will frame its arguments accordingly.

“So many apparent “facts” and “statistics” are contestable and many are unprovable until after the referendum.”

But out on the campaign trail the Prime Minister hit back, insisting that he was only interested in telling people the truth.

“The only project I’m interested in is ”Project Fact”,” he said.

“Project Fact is about saying stay and you know what you get. Leave, and you’re taking a gamble with people’s lives’.’

He added: “This is not about raising concerns and worries which aren’t there – they are real concerns and worries based on fact.”

His comments prompted UK Independence Party Leader Nigel Farage, among others, to launch #ProjectFact on Twitter, using the hashtag to post facts in support of a Brexit.

Among snippets of information, Mr Farage tweeted: “The facts are clear: outside EU we can trade globally, run our own affairs and control our borders,” and he added that membership of the Union costs Britain “£55 million every single day”.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP and Mayor of London Boris Johnson – who many pro-Brexit Conservatives see as a possible successor to Mr Cameron – has urged politicians to jettison fear in favour of “Project Hope”.

Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Johnson said that the remain campaign was determined to scare the British people into remaining within the European Union against their better judgement, but he wanted to inspire the hope that Britain could succeed and thrive outside the constraints of EU membership.

“It is now obvious that the Remain campaign is intended to provoke only one emotion in the breast of the British public and that is fear,” he said.

“The agents of Project Fear – and they seem to be everywhere – have warned us that leaving the EU would jeopardise police, judicial and intelligence cooperation. We have even been told that the EU has been responsible, over the last 70 years, for “keeping the peace in Europe”.

“We have just had the curious spectacle of HM Treasury insisting on the rewriting of a G20 Communique to include a reference to the potential “shock” from Brexit – surely the first time any country has used an international forum actively to talk up threats to its own economic prospects.

“In every case the message is that Brexit is simply too scary; and the reality is that these threats are so wildly exaggerated as to be nonsense.”

He added: “Whatever the risks of Brexit, they are eclipsed by the problems of remaining in a political construct that has changed out of all recognition since we joined in 1972. What we need to do now is screw up our courage and go for change.

“Let’s call it Project Hope.”

Follow Donna Rachel Edmunds on Twitter: or e-mail to: