The guy who thought up the Brexit Bus and its NHS lie says referendum was a "dumb idea"

Originally published at:


I was very anti-Brexit during the time of the election, but since then I’ve started to think it was the right decision.

The European Commission should be democratically elected. The Council of Ministers debates should be open by default and only closed when necessary. I don’t blame the voters for being uncomfortable with the current setup.

This must have been a truly satisfying moment for someone of his ilk. It’s not every confidence artist who gets the opportunity to flip off his marks and say “so long, suckahs!” as he walks out the door with a big bag of their money.


It is.
As somebody else who is wrangling words for a living has already put this far better than I ever could, I’ll just quote him1):

"Members of the European Commission are indeed nominated by something called the European Council but, I tried to explain, this Council comprises the European heads of state (elected by us), and even so, their choice is still subject to approval by a vote in the European Parliament (also elected by us). In fact, the head of the European Commission is directly elected by the European Parliament (who are elected by…? Oh yes, that’s right: us).

Electing the European Commission may not be a plebiscite but it is just the same as voting for a MP whose political party has decided that an off-shore money-laundering, tax-dodging toff should be Prime Minister whether you like it or not, only to ditch him barely a year later in favour some other imbecilic, dough-faced cunt."

1) Alistair Dabbs
The article I quoted is from 2016-07-01.


Excellent analysis here:

The interchange has been reported as an admission on the part of Cummings that the referendum was, and Brexit is, an ‘error’. For many this will chime with their own views, including views that key protagonists were simply playing politics, with history leaving it up to hapless politicians to try and make something of an outcome they didn’t expect and many didn’t want.

But I think it is important to be clear about what Cummings is admitting or asserting. He simply entertains the possibility that ‘in some possible branches of the future’ leaving will be an error. Otherwise – and as he says in a further tweet – ‘there are more possible branches of future in which leaving is good for [EU] as well as for UK’.

In essence, Cummings welcomes the destabilising effects of Brexit…


And that’s good enough? The people had a chance to say it isn’t and that’s pretty much what they did. Now the cost of saying “no” may be too high, but I can’t see any reason why members of the EC shouldn’t be democratically elected. Just because the PM isn’t doesn’t mean that we should create new layers of government that are also not elected.

Do you think it would be a mistake for the Commission to be democratically elected? Should the ministers debates be closed by default?

So this guy knowingly lied in order to bring about a result he thinks is bad?

I can’t be the only one who doesn’t understand this, can I?


I think you are equating “direct election” aka plebiscite with “democratic election”. Which isn’t wrong as such. It’s just that directly electing a representative aka MP who then is part of the group that elects the PM is also a democratic process. And since I know which person my MP will vote for, yes good enough. Arguably not ideal, but good enough for the time being. And it’s not really that uncommon.

I would also like to point out that by definition the government of a democratic state are the people. Who elect an administration to run things. Which is something that got seriously muddled up over the years; which is one of the reasons why we have the current crop of head boys & girls, I think. Seriously, referring to an administration (that is support to serve the people) as “the government” just gives these clowns ideas way above their station.


You really think the average voter has the least notion of how the European Commission is appointed, let alone an opinion on how much democracy it entails (beyond, apparently, “not enough”)?


At what point should we stop electing? I mean, should the bloke that mows the grass outside the council offices be elected? Does the cabinet need a democratic mandate on which kinds of biscuits to buy for their meetings?

At what point do we trust the people we elected to get on with their job (that is, by appointing suitable deputies and associates)? Surely what you’re really interested in is accountability to the electorate? In what way does the appointment of the European Commission not lead to accountability through elected officers?


First, I do think the average voter has a pretty good notion of how the EC is appointed.

should the bloke that mows the grass outside the council offices be elected?


Does the cabinet need a democratic mandate on which kinds of biscuits to buy for their meetings?


In general, I would say it’s related to the power and impact that the office holds. If the consequences of the decisions made by ministers is significant, then the governed should have a say.

Wikipedia has a pretty good page on democracy in the EU:

It isn’t a black-and-white issue and reasonable people can hold different opinions on how much democratic process is enough. I tend to push for more.

Well, given what the UK level of knowledge is on even very basic questions regarding the EU, I’d be vary wary of asserting they even know what the EC is. The problem with the EU in the UK is not democratic deficit, it’s knowledge deficit.


I think this guy Cummings’ views are being misrepresented here. He says, "In some possible branches of the future leaving will be an error.” That sentence leaves a lot of room for success, which he acknowledges in a separate tweet. At best he’s acknowledging it’s possible for things to proceed in less than ideal fashion.

His other statement is more about regime change than it is about Brexit:

Last month, Mr Cummings tweeted that MPs who backed Leave must force change on Downing Street and the Department for Exiting the European Union, led by David Davis. “If Leave MPs don’t assert themselves to force MANAGEMENT changes on No10/DEXU, Brexit talks = guaranteed debacle as I’ve said for a year,”

I don’t think the shortened version “Brexit talks = guaranteed debacle,” is a fair representation of his position. It seems like his real point is that May has to go.

In any case, Cummings seems like he’s managed to do a lot of damage.


So. A terrible plan; but he was willing to be the hatchetman for it anyway. How…flattering.

What are the bets? A Producers-style con where the terrible plan was never supposed to succeed, just get far enough to pay its consultants before flaming out? An I’ve-got-mine bet that the clusterfuck won’t be intense enough to threaten him?

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Well, they sure showed the EU by removing themselves from any future chance to change or reform that setup! Geniuses, I tell ya.


I often wonder if the way the EU handled the Greek issue in the years before the BREXIT vote heavily influenced the outcome. Instead of being seen as an indivisible whole, the threats to kick Greece out obviously highlight that states could leave the EU - and worse, be kicked out if they underperformed!

It also showed how much sovereignty states lost by joining the EU and using the common currency (inability to set monetary policy), and the refugee “flood” has shown how much sovereignty has been lost in terms of deciding who you can let into your country.

Added to the lack of elected representation to the EU (and the lack of representation based on population), I can understand why leaving the EU was an attractive idea for some people.

And I also get the impression that this was done as a camel in the tent situation - slowly, over time, in small increments. So it was only when the Greek troubles happened that people critically examined the scheme.


I’m conflicted about Brexit. On one hand, it’s going to burn the UK to the ground, on the other hand it was voted in hugely on the backs of xenophobes[1], but on the gripping hand the EU is a horrible neoliberal anti-democratic creation, the Euro was designed to kill what remained of European socialism, and it either needs to be reformed completely or die.

So. Y’know. Conflicted.

[1] Traditionally, they are called ‘racist’ but a huge amount of opprobrium was heaped on the Poles, so unless ‘Slav’ is a race, we need a wider term for the full compass of their failure to be decent people.


I used to go to international Libertarian conventions, many of which were in Europe, with a crowd that was mixed Americans, Dutch, other Europeans, some non-Europeans. The Dutch and English tended to complain about the annoying Brussels Eurocracy making it hard to do business.

The old French and German guys were strongly pro-EU - any amount of annoying bureaucracy was better than having their countries go to war with each other again.

(And whether “Slav” counts as a “race” depends on which decade’s racism you’re counting.)

It is strange that the UK should want to leave the EU to regain its “sovereignty” when in fact the last few UK governments (whether Labour or Tory or Tory/LibDem coalition) don’t seem to have had significant issues with what was going on in Brussels. During the last 20 years or so, the EU enacted around 2000 regulations, measures etc., and the UK voted in favour of virtually all of them – there were only 70 occasions or so where it voted against a proposal, or less than 5% altogether.

So I guess if things do go wrong he’ll acknowledge that he shouldn’t have put that lie about NHS on the side of the bus.

I totally agree with your interpretation, but it certainly makes him come across as awfully ends-justify-the-means.