Handy post Brexit Exchange

To save time for Remainers, I’ve recorded a real world Remain/Leave Exchange from Twitter.  It’ll probably represent 90% of your attempts to reason with Leave Voters so feel free to read this as an alternative to actually arguing.

Despite my best efforts it ended with 3 discussion “dead ends”, some insults, a bizarre “Russell Brand is\is not the same as Prof. Michael Dougan” argument and ended with the Leaver saying “I’m too busy, go away” when gently pressed.  The best I could ascertain was that 5% VAT on Gas and VAT on sanitary goods were important enough issues to leave the EU for.

In all seriousness like many of us I’m trying to engage and I suppose educate Leavers, perhaps that’s arrogant but I feel many were misled based on what I see in the news and my own experience.  However although I’ve had a few meaningful discussions the vast majority dry up like the one below.

The pattern seems to be that the Leave voter will typically make bald statements, disparage any evidence to the contrary or say “only idiots believed that Leave Statement” but when asked to back up their own statements they will often become insulting before storming or slinking off.  I understand many people are having the same experience.

Anyway, the conversation started with this opening statement (note all tweets reproduced as is and in their entirety with only ‘@names’ removed for readability)

Axdrian ‏@TheWelshPatriot
I’m proud 2 say I voted Brexit not because of a message on a bus/picture of refugees – I voted 4 our Sovereignty

tony nog ‏@tony_nog  
can you give examples of concrete negative impacts from this “loss of sovereignty”?

I’ve seen this before, and I’m always curious to understand exactly what “sovereignty” means in practical terms for Leavers who used this as a main argument.  A new commentator, ‘Nunney of the 52%’, interjected and this is the person I then conversed with.  The results are below:

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
Nog, maybe u could explain benefit of being ruled by undemocratic EU failing with so many crises. 

So firstly, answering a question with a question.  The conversation then meandered so I’ve tried to rearrange into 4 particular “issues”.


1) 50% of UK law is from the EU

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn  
EU legislation takes precedence over UK law. At least half of UK law emanates from the EU.

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
Hi Nunn. Simply not true I’m afraid. Prof Dougan on this (2 mins 40 in)

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
I’ve seen that before. Not wholly accurate but v biased. Try HoP library for better data

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
(Prof Michael Dougan) is one of the leading academics.Called before HoP to give evidence here

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
Do you have a comparable expert who will state ” at least half 50% of UK law emmanates from EU”?

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
HoP library but reliable figure out it at up to 80% odd. Even Clegg put it almost that high.

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
OK. Can you provide a link to that statement?

No further comments from Nunney.  If 50% of UK law really comes from the EU this should be easy to prove. But of course it doesn’t.  Significant regulations are defined at an EU level however the vast majority are concerned with trade.


2) Impacts of EU Law

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
again, perhaps you can give concrete negative examples of EU law impacts on UK?

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
There are many and if you’re unaware it says a lot about you. EU control over VAT for one?

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
EU has limited control over certain areas of VAT. How is this negative? is 5% VAT on Gas that bad?

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
VAT on sanitary products is good is it?

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
Its arguable. I will give you that. VAT on Sanitary products. Anything else?

No further comments from Nunney.  Personally, I would agree that VAT on essentials is not good, and a failing of the EU.  VAT on Gas & Electric I’m not so concerned with.  As reasons for leaving the EU or as examples of EU ‘ascendancy’ however they are hardly compelling.


3) Random assumptions

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
The difference tween us is that I can accept there is some (not much) good about EU but >> you and your anti UK Europhile buddies believe absolutely everything in EU is wonderful

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
what do you base that statement on? I have only asked you questions and pointed out counter args

No further comments from Nunney.  All my statements are above, this was just a random attack based on his own prejudice and not on anything I’d actually said.


4) Russell Brand

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
(in reference to Prof Dougan as an expert) and I’d point out Russell Brand was before the HoP as an expert

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
OK. So you are saying Prof Michael Dougan is NOT an expert?

We then went down a bit of a rat hole.  I assumed that by raising Russell Brand Nunney was being disparaging of Professor Dougan.

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
Typical Remainer. Lying about what I said. You debate like a five yr old. Grow up

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
You’ve also now insulted me 3 times. I’m not sure why

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
Because you lied about something I didn’t say

tony nog ‏@@tony_nog
Again. A question. Not a statement. If you accept that Prof Dougan IS an expert then great and we can move on

This went backwards and forwards so I decided to post a “text picture” to clarify.

OK to clarify

I put forward Prof Dougan as an Expert

You said “and I’d point out Russell Brand was before the HoP as an expert”

So I asked “OK. So you are saying Prof Michael Dougan is NOT an expert?”

The question mark makes it a question not a statement.

In any case, its a reasonable assumption that you are putting forward “Russel Brand was an ‘Expert'” to undermine Prof Dougan.

If you are not, then fair enough, but why mention Brand at all?

So let me ask it as a direct question as you seem keen on this point

Why did you say “and I’d point out Russell Brand was before the HoP as an expert”

What was your point?

There was no answer for an hour, so I asked again and asked if there was a mix up.  Finally I got:

Nunney of the 52% ‏@baldnunn
No mix up. Busy.

Obviously I’ll say I’m not proud of this last exchange which just became pedantic.  I hoped I could address it so that we could move back to the previous points.  I genuinely want to understand the Leave position (as plenty of people say “I ignored the Leave campaign and made my own mind up”).  However I suspect this whole Russell Brand thing was just a dead cat because Nunney wasn’t able to back up his statements.  Anyway – enjoy.

Update: this morning I tried to reach out again, the response was “I remember you, you lied about what I said. Not interested – Bye”

11 thoughts on “Handy post Brexit Exchange

  1. Broadly, I’ve found Leave abusive, though I’ve seen Remain be similar it has been less so.

    I’ve also seen each camp to a large extent sitting in their respective SM bubbles, loudly agreeing with each other.

    I’ve seen very little proper debate. I’ve always be able to see both sides and tried weigh up why is a difficult and complicated set of questions.

    Over all though, I’ve seen Leavers indulge in lazy thinking, easily bored and hopelessly, though unwittingly, divided.

    The thing that worries me most is that one of the more useful features of the web, the ability to coalesce minor interests and give critical mass to groups previously disconnected and distant is working for extremist groups (see also IS) as well as benign minor interests.

    I then get all liberal a hand wringing about not wanting to censor people but we must reflect that some views, while they may be expressed are not acceptable when held up against our values. That’s not censorship, it’s moderation.

    See this for a more articulate rendering:


    Meanwhile, I’m trying to break out of the bubble and talk to people, choosing to let the abuse bounce off.


  2. Just occasionally I have a useful conversation/debate about this but more often it is more like your exchange above. I ask a question like what did you think you were voting for when you voted to leave or what do you think will specifically be better about your life if we leave and I get tumbleweed (or told to stop spitting out my dummy!). I am really curious what people are expecting because only once we know that can we work out whether a compromise is possible. At the moment I can’t see any way of respecting the views of the 52% and still being the country we are (and not worse – definitely not better!). All I can hope is that once people realise what the real choices are, there is another vote of some sort (referendum, election, parliamentary vote, whatever) and then sense will prevail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m engaged in 1 at the moment, one Leaver who is at least prepared to engage. I also had an interesting discussion with a boat captain in Greece which I keep meaning to blog. But 90% are like this one. This particular guy is hiding behind “you lied about what I said” (ie when I asked “are you saying Prof Dougan is NOT an expert?”) – he’s found a flimsy reason to flounce off and not engage. I’m determined to try but sometimes (most times) its like talking to spoiled 5 year olds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They are. The language Clara – I don’t mean the swearing but the aggression and posturing. Its very ugly – I know its only a few fanatics but its still disturbing. Guess we just have to pick our battles – and perhaps use the aggression to say to moderate people “look, these are your fellow travelers – are these the kinds of people you really want to align with?”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ” I genuinely want to understand the Leave position”.

    That’s a problem, because there isn’t a single ‘leave position’; rather there are many separate threads, some of which weave together more or less harmoniously, some of which are in conflict.


  4. The issue as I see it is that many leavers have adopted a position based on sentiment and ill defined notions of sovereignty and control. That’s absolutely their right of course, but they seem uncomfortable admitting it and so try to argue their position based on questionable or outright false information of the type that characterised the leave campaign. Most of this stuf, as illustrated above, is readily debunked, at which point pride requires they either accuse you of misrepresenting them, reply with insults or disappear to spout the same bilge to others with similar views.

    We’re all proud and resistant to admitting errors or irational beliefs so I don’t hold out great hope of ever getting anywhere in these exchanges. Doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying though 🙂


    1. Absolutely. I don’t know how many times they’ve just shuffled off after even the most basic questioning.

      That said, today after a lot of effort I managed to bring a leaver over to the light side, by using fact based discussion and independent sources. Hoping to work with him on pulling the “journey” together into a new blog, with links to sources. May help bring those with an open mind over. 50% of leave though? Probably too entrenched.


      1. Call me lazy but arguing with entrenched is hard work. That 10% of leavers either assumed it was a protest or are more easily persuade than SM ranters seems quite likely.

        So how do we reach them ?


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