The statement made by Basil Fawlty in the hit sitcom Fawlty Towers is his reaction to the last referendum on whether Britain should be a member of the European Community.
Fast forward forty years and the EU referendum is again the debate of the moment, but the question we are all asking is: if we were to leave the EU, what would be the impact on our lives?
There has been a lot of noise but no concrete evidence as to what the state of Britain will be if there was an exit. And even if there are answers somewhere, you will have to spend a lot of time wading through mountains of information to find it. What this referendum has been lacking is a clear and concise engagement with voters based on facts, rather than conjecture.
We have had leaflets pushed through our doors from both sides of the campaign, which have been equally uninformative – a few points from either side of the argument as to why it would be a good decision to remain or exit. But if you want a reference point with all the facts to make an informed decision, it would be hard to find one.
During a BBC interview with a group of women about how they will be voting, responses included: ‘I want to hear what will affect me but there has been a lot of mud slinging. I want to hear the facts,’ and ‘we need to hear the message loud and clear.’
In lieu of a clear engagement plan, speculation has spread like wildfire – from top-tier publications to the grassroots voter.
For instance, at one point the Independent was reporting that if we left the EU, we could scrap VAT on energy bills, and at the same the Guardian was reporting that we could not scrap the VAT.
A similar state of uncertainty was apparent during a recent visit to the pub where a group of young professionals could be heard discussing the EU referendum. Amongst the mounting speculation, an argument by one of the men was agreed by all – ‘I don’t know what is going to happen if we leave, but I know the outcome if we stay.’
A campaign of this importance deserves more obvious engagement tactics. More snackable and sharable content – like independent infographics – to describe the pros and cons of Brexit versus Bremain would have brought further clarity. As would have more roundtables or forums, including the views of business and economic experts to get to those at the forefront of different sectors or demographics.
Ensuring everyone can make an informed decision when they go to the polls was key to this debate. And with just a few days to go before the vote, it’s clear Britons are still confused.