Management / Brand Intelligence: The misleading Brexit red bus is not a good example

Brand Intelligence: The misleading Brexit red bus is not a good example

Since Leave won the EU referendum, a lot has happened in the world of politics. David Cameron resigned and Theresa May became prime minister in a Game of Thrones-style election race.

Chief Brexiteer Boris Johnson is now foreign minister after pulling out of his race to become PM when he was thwarted by his campaign companion Michael Gove, who also failed in his PM race and has since been sacked and left without a place in May’s cabinet.

Another prominent leaver, Andrea Leadsom, also quit the race for PM, giving May the clear win. She had to apologise to May after comments emerged in The Times that suggested she would be a better PM because she was a mother.

However, she has since said on her website that the reporter "repeatedly asked about my children and I repeatedly made it clear that I did not want this to be in any way a feature of the campaign".

Nigel Farage, the anti-EU campaigner and leader of UKIP, also quit after he said his political ambition had been achieved following the result of the EU referendum, while the Labour Party is in a state of disarray with Jeremy Corbyn refusing to quit despite mass resignations and calls for him to be replaced.

There have been protests in the streets of London and widespread criticism of the campaigns in the run-up to the referendum. That is why it has come under scrutiny in Brand Intelligence.

Within hours of winning the election, the Brexit campaigners already started backtracking on the slogans they had made up in their campaigns. Throughout the campaign, the Brexiteers paraded around a red bus with the slogan: “We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead. Vote Leave.”

But the very next day, Farage admitted the NHS was not going to get this money. The claim that the UK sends £350 million to the EU each week was also questioned, and according to Full Fact, the UK’s independent factchecking charity, this is closer to £250 million after rebates. This was reported by the Remain side as incorrect throughout the campaign.

There was also UKIP’s anti-migrant ‘Breaking Point’ poster, which was very similar to Nazi propaganda from the Second World War. It was reported to the police for inciting racial hatred.

There has been a lot of public outcry about Vote Leave misleading people.  A crowdfunding campaign called #BrexitJustice has even emerged to fund legal action in order to bring justice to dishonest politicians and challenge Brexit in the courts. It has already reached its target figure of £100,000.

Petitions have also emerged on and the UK Parliament’s website against misleading political campaigns.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) got numerous complaints from the public about these campaigns. However, when it comes to political campaigns, the ASA does not have the same rules as companies in regards to misleading information. Political campaigns are not within the ASA remit and all they advise people to do is to complain to the party.

Although the EU referendum result is meant to represent democracy - a debate has been brewing about this.

Is it fair for society and our economy to vote on such things that have such serious consequences for everyone if voters are not given all the correct facts first?

Not to let the Remain side off, it was also accused of fear mongering, and George Osborne claimed there would be emergency Brexit Budget which has not happened.

There were also claims that UK families would be £4,300 worse off by leaving the EU, and Full Fact say this is a red herring. However, it also said most economists agree that leaving the EU would cost the UK economically.

A lot of economists are now predicting a recession and a survey by Deloitte has said business confidence amongst chief financial officers has plunged. The IMF has just knocked nearly 1 per cent off UK's growth in 2017 due to Brexit.

Nobody knows what is going to happen - the negotiations are going to take a long time and there will be a lot of uncertainty before any sort of deal is made. May certainly has a difficult job ahead of her.


Get our latest features in your inbox

Join our community of business leaders