Brexit: What the hell happens now: Errors and clarifications part one

14121316This is the first of what will likely be several posts outlining errors I made in the Brexit book. Most of these have been sent in by readers. I didn’t mention in the emails or in the acknowledgement that I’d use their names so I won’t publish them here, but if you were one of the people who gave me a nudge on certain things or highlighted what I was getting wrong: thank you. That sounds sarcastic, but it’s not. I’m constantly amazed by the wit, humour and intellectual curiosity of the emails I get. It’s a privilege to receive them.

So far I haven’t found any sustained errors. The mistakes are all fairly minor. Certainly none of them discount the arguments the book makes. But there are quite a few around and a couple of howlers. I’ll outline what I got wrong on this site as and when I have time to write it up, then when I’m all done I’ll put the various blog posts together into a master list of stuff I cocked up which readers can refer to.

Here, I’m getting some basic stuff out the way. The next post will look at rather more substantial errors I think I’ve made on the price of government bonds, the tariff arrangements on component parts and international law around patents. Those require a few phone calls, either to map out exactly what I got wrong or just to provide a bit more depth. After that I plan to go through the book again, with the extra information I’ve had since mid-October, and see if there’s anything else amiss. If you’ve spotted something, do email me at

Anyway, here goes:

Page 32: I incorrectly stated that the European Council and the European Parliament vote according to a qualified majority on the Article 50 deal. In actual fact, only the European Council does this. The parliament will be voting according to a simple majority.

Page 47: The diagram wrongly states that Estonia is outside the eurozone. Actually, Estonia joined the eurozone on New Year’s Eve 2010. It was the first ex-Soviet state to do so. The diagram also wrongly states that Poland is in the eurozone. In actual fact it is outside. As per the Treaty of Accession, however, it must at some point adopt the euro. Quite when this will be is anyone’s guess.

Page 61: I wrote that the Treaty of Rome “does not mention freedom of movement” and that the focus was on free movement of labour. This is kind of true and kind of false. In actual fact, Article Three enshrines free movement for “persons, services and capital” and it does mention free movement specifically. However, the document is also quite clear that it is talking about workers. “Freedom of movement for workers shall be secured within the Community by the end of the transitional period at the latest,” it reads. “Such freedom of movement shall entail the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality between workers of the member states as regards employment, remuneration and other conditions of work and employment.” So I’m literally wrong, but technically right, if that makes sense.

Page 125: ‘Cheltenham Ladies School’ should read ‘Cheltenham Ladies’ College’.

Right, that’s it for now. More substantial errors will be laid out in the next blog.