from the nothing-is-ever-truly-removed-from-the-internet dept
In the aftermath of what is generally considered to be a Bad Idea, the forces behind the UK's exit from the European Union has pulled up stakes on its website and shut the whole thing down. The problem is that it looks more like an attempt to bury the past than to warmly greet the future it helped create, as Wired's Matt Kamen notes.
While this may simply be the campaign closing down in the wake of its victory, this removes all clear record of speeches, editorials, statistics, and information the Leave campaign used on the run up to the referendum on membership of the European Union on June 23.
The content is still there, but links to information have been removed and the landing page is nothing more than a static image. Visitors looking for promises that may be broken in the future (like rerouting of EU fees to the NHS) will have to know the page's URL in order to access it. Given comments made by those involved with the dubious promises and dubious math, the quasi-wipe of the site's content may not just be Vote Leave's idea of a victory lap.
Senior Leave politicians such as Iain Duncan Smith have, in the days since the referendum, denied the money was promised to the NHS, despite other figures in the campaign saying "the Government should use some of the billions saved from leaving the EU to give at least a £100 million per week cash transfusion to the NHS".
Vote Leave has yet to comment on its post-exit scrub, but others have noted that the internet (almost never) forgets. The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine has preserved Vote Leave's promises and other statements for posterity, ensuring that it won't be able to easily decouple itself from its assertions.
The movement spent plenty of its own money talking about all the money the UK was handing over to the EU, rather than spending on its own citizens. Tracing backwards from its still-live YouTube account, one can still access its £50 million giveaway -- supposedly the amount turned over every day to the EU. This number was referred to by the UK Statistics Authority as "potentially misleading," due to the fact that Vote Leave based it on gross contributions without factoring in rebates received from the EU or any flow of offsetting income resulting from trade agreements.
In addition, other claims made during the Brexit campaign -- mostly related to stemming the flow of immigrants into the UK and preventing Turkey and handful of other nations from joining the EU -- have proven to be just as false. The original narrative of cutting back the flow of immigrants to the UK by "tens of thousands" now appears to have been replaced with a more hesitant assertion that not a whole lot will change. As for concerns about Turkey joining the EU and bringing with it thousands of jihadists from neighboring nations, the best guess is that the nation's possible inclusion is still several years -- if not several decades off. (UK Prime Minister David Cameron suggested the year 3000 as a good estimate based on current progress. Turkey has been moving towards this since 1963 and hasn't budged the needle much over the past 50 years.)
If Vote Leave is truly trying to bury its misleading math and promises it can't keep, it made its first mistake by publishing them to the web where things tend to live forever.