Hold the Brexit Con Artists to Account
London's High Court has thrown out a complaint charging that leaders of the UK's Leave campaign ahead of the UK's 2016 referendum lied. That is regrettable, because a hearing would have highlighted the danger that such lies can pose to a democracy.
PARIS – In late May, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court decided to hear a complaint brought by activist Marcus Ball, who had accused Boris Johnson, the former UK foreign secretary who is now leading the field to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, of lying during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign. London’s High Court, however, reversed that decision and quashed the summons that would have compelled Johnson to testify about the Brexit campaign in open court.
The High Court’s decision is regrettable. A public hearing would have been highly welcome for two reasons. It would have exposed the lies of the Brexiteers – which have always seemed to me to be the best argument of those who want to stop Brexit. And, more generally, a hearing would have highlighted the danger that such lies can pose to a democracy.
Of course, the United Kingdom should be free to choose to become Little England again. After all, populations have as much right to commit suicide as individuals do. But this is on one condition: that the choice is informed, deliberate, and freely made. No one should be pushed into it by harassment or incitement – an offense which, in the case of actual suicide, is subject to severe punishment.