Sándor Kerekes’ exchange with Lord Peter Lilley on the deception of Brexit

In January this year Lord Peter Lilley, member of the Upper House, came to Budapest to the invitation of the Danube Institute to give a lecture about the Brexit and its prospects. (The video of the lecture can be seen here.) It was early days to form any judgement about it, but there were questions abound already. His presentation was polished and quite expert, but in the question and answer session I had to pose the obvious: how about the misleading propaganda preceding the referendum an thus distorting the outcome? And how about the predicted horrendous financial cost of Brexit?

Lord Lilley expressis verbis refuted any accusation of misleading the electorate and made light of the expected cost, predicting a temporary, slight increase in the cost of living. During the succeeding months I followed closely the meandering ways of Brexit in Parliament and in the press, and also found alarming events to suggest that Lord Lilley’s accounts of the unfolding of Brexit was partisan and less then reliable. So, as the latest news about Boris Johnson’s charging reached me I decided to revisit the issue of Brexit with Lord Lilley and sent him my firs email. To my astonishment he answered it almost instantly and that is how the correspondence between us ensued.

A message to Lord Peter Lilley, member of the Upper House of Great Britain.

Dear Lord Lilly:

A few months ago you were visiting here in Budapest, where you gave a presentation to the Danube Institute about Brexit. We, your audience, have understood that you were in favour of Brexit and poo-pooed any suggestion that it could be harmful in any way to the interest of the country. In the Q&A session I pointed out to you that the referendum was rigged by the misleading of the electorate and that there will be a high price the country will have to pay for breaking away.

In your answer, Sir, you denied the misleading of the public about the consequences and admitted only an ”insignificant” rise in the cost of living. I didn’t have the evidence available at the time, but in the view of the developements in the mean time since, we can safely say that you did not tell the truth. In fact, Boris Johnson is being dragged into court for ”lying and misleading” in the campaign.

Also, the Electoral Commission reported vast overspending and non-compliance with the election spending rules.

The Financial Times quoted on 1st of September 2016:

”Katie Ghose, ERS chief executive, called for “a root and branch review” of the role of referendums, saying the EU debate had been “dire”. She cited a “top-down, personality-based” campaign that “failed to address major policies and issues” during a campaign period that was “too short”, meaning that “misleading claims could be made with total impunity”.

It was also reported by the Independent that a quarter of all voters regarded the campaign as misleading…

In summary, Lord Lilley, we can assert that you continued the tactic of misleading in your presentation, ”economised with the truth” and in addition to your British constituents, you also mislead your Hungarian audience too. I wonder if you would still make the same fraudulent claims now after the recent events of the Brexit debate.


Soon enough unexpectedly an answer arrived from Lord Lilley.

Dear Mr Santos,

Thank you for your email – though your suggestion that I “did not tell the truth” in my presentation in Budapest is offensive, unspecific, unsubstantiated and untrue.

You clearly get your view of events in Britain from the Independent – a highly partisan journal. I always advise people to read publications representing their opponents’ views in order to get a more balanced view.

My country had a referendum in which everyone was free to express their opinions and criticise those of other people. The Remain campaign far outspent the Leave campaign – even excluding nearly £10m spent by the government in sending its pro Remain views to every household. The entire Establishment, US banks, Obama, IMF, CBI pumped out pro-EU propaganda. They lost and, despite promising to respect the result, are now doing everything to thwart it.

The £350m figure on the side of the Leave battle-bus was much disputed during the campaign so the electorate heard the arguments before reaching their verdict. It is based on the official figures in the Treasury Red Book (£19bn) of the gross amount the U.K. contributes annually to the EU. The EU then returns some £150m pw as a rebate or to be spent on its programmes in the U.K. So our net contribution is about £200m per week or £10bn pa.

I debated almost everyday, sometimes three debates a day since there was huge public interest. I always used the net figure of £200m. Remain campaigners always raised the £350m figure. I explained that was a gross figure and asked the audience whether – given that the net figure was ‘only’ £200m – was anyone less inclined to vote Leave? Not a single person changed their mind.

The fact that the EU is demanding that we pay £39bn in lieu of future payments for the privilege of leaving demonstrates how important our contribution is to them and how costly to us.

You assume that because Boris is being dragged to Court by hugely expensive lawyers he must be guilty. In Britain we assume everyone is innocent unless and until they are found guilty.

Election claims have never previously been subject to litigation. But if they are the Remain campaign will be very vulnerable – the Chancellor’s claim that a Leave vote would mean he would introduce an immediate budget cutting benefits and raising taxes and interest rates; Treasury forecasts that a Leave vote would precipitate a recession, unemployment would rise by 800,000 etc etc

I await your apology.

Best regards

Peter Lilley

However, I was not going to give in that easily.

Dear Lord Lilley,

I also await your apology for misspelling my name. And if I am not readily rushing to apologize that is because I am not quite convinced.

Without trying to extend a debate to boundless proportions, I merely intend to mention a few factors.

One is the fact that the court deemed worthy the accusation against Boris Johnson to accept the charge. The cost of the legal personnel is just as irrelevant as is the presumption of innocence at this stage of the case. It goes without saying.
The other is your claim that I am partial to the reporting of the Independent. Well, perhaps the Independent is not the most objective, but the most prompt in the reporting and therefore, comes up first on the search engines. My much more creditworthy source is the the Electoral Commission’s report that you wisely avoided mentioning in your reply.

It is also worth noting that the sources you call the ”Establishment,” advising again the ludicrous self immolation that Brexit was going to be and proves increasingly so, was a collection of reasonable and creditable actors, without any investments in either outcome, trying to save the British people from their own foolishness, hubris and the uninhibited egoism of their politicians. Alas, without any success so far. Your criticism of the Independent and suggestion in favour of ”other sources” also rings somewhat hollow, since the conservative, Brexit-toting press is not quite ready to discuss the actual risks and thus the supply of actual alternative sources is quite meager. And this is also part of the misinformation I mentioned. On the 10th of March Reuters reported that : ”More than 275 financial firms are moving a combined $1.2 trillion (£925 billion) in assets and funds and thousands of staff from Britain to the European Union in readiness for Brexit at a cost of up to $4 billion, a report from a think tank said on Monday.” The daily press was not in a hurry to forward this news, nor to refute it at all. The Bank of England announced a 2% shortfall in growth due to Brexit, on the 22nd of March. And so on.

In closing I must say I feel honoured that you took the trouble of answering my letter, thank you very much. I wonder if you would mind if I made your answer public. Or do you intend to keep it private?
For the moment I think, we do best by waiting for the development of events.
Best wishes.


And Lord Lilley’s farewell:

I apologise for misspelling your name – though pots calling kettles black come to mind since you miss-spelt mine! Surely a minor matter beside calling someone a liar, without identifying any lie, simply because you disagree with my views. I am sorry you cannot bring yourself to apologise for your offensive remarks.

Re the court case: At what stage do you think a presumption of innocence is relevant if not before a case has been adjudicated upon?

Of course you may use my views as you wish – preferably alongside my original presentation in Budapest which the Institute has released. But if you value your own reputation I suggest you do not publish your own letters.

Best wishes

Peter Lilley


And my farewell:

But of course I apologize for misspelling your name, especially because by the time I noticed it, the email was gone and I had a small laugh at my own expense. I also apologize for calling you a liar, if I did, although I am not sure. In any case, I had no intention to attack you personally, so I do apologize.

As to the presumption of innocence, it is always to be honored, ”goes without saying,” but it was not the issue, the court would observe it, therefore, it was irrelevant along with the price of the lawyers.

I thankfully take your permission and post your letter, unchanged in any way, on Facebook. My views are already there and will let the reader adjudicate.

Thank you again for your answer and best wishes


Sándor Kerekes


  1. No price is too high for sovereignty.

  2. One more misspelling: it’s apologize not apologise.

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      Apologise is correct; this is standard British English spelling. Apologize is American English. In Canada, we tend to use both spellings.

  3. Pierre Divenyi says:

    Wonderful exchange, Sandor! Very well thought out and expertly stated.

    I wonder: if a lord misrepresents facts (I want to avoid using the “l” word), what do you expect from those at their service?

    My personal sorrow about Brexit is what will happen to the x-hundred-thousand UK residents with Hungarian passports…


    • Phil S. Stine says:

      Is your ‘caps lock’ broken; or do you just a shouty sort of bloke ….

      Huexit anyone ?

  5. András B. Göllner says:

    Lilley may be designated as a Lord, but he’s just a man engaged in affinity fraud. Sándor Kerekes is not a Lord, but a man, who calls it the way he sees it.

    • Don Kichote says:

      Sándor Kerekes is absolutely right when you read Lord Lilley truths! … then I would like to add another point (31th) to Lord Lilley truths. After Lord Lilley’s Brexit, Britain can still eat Italian ice cream … Money does not matter. But the truth is, money always plays a role … if you keep it quiet then it’s a lie.

  6. Sandor Kerekes says:

    I thank those writing approvingly and answer only Dr. Horvath the screaming commenter.
    Dr. Horvath your loud comments are completely out of place and are hardly more than a cheap, opportunistic rant to promote your book and your political views. Both are quite unworthy.
    You see doctor, the situation is that the planet is in mortal danger due to those ”sovereign” states that donot give a damn about the plight of others. Unfortunately, however, as long as the peril is global, the hope of remedy can only be global as well. And your semi-fascistic, pseudo-sovereignist outbursts, so familiar by now from the neofascists of European fatcats like Orban and Salvini, hase an ever fading relevance. You can publish all the books of nationalism you like, nevertheless, it will not change one wit of the historical experience the world had to painfully acquire at the cost of two world wars, two horrendous genocides, besides of a few smaller ones, and the promising counter examples of the successful European Union.
    Sir, your new fangled ”nation states” have absolutely nothing to offer besides blood, toil, sweat and tears – to no avail.

  7. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Dr Horváth:

    Don’t try to make nationalism and internationalism into irreconcilable opposites. The world is not black and white. Evidence of peaceful, cooperative relationships between local, regional and international political organizations abound. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater and cheer murderous affinity-fraud artists like Orbán, Trump, Putin, who are stealing their ill informed, angry masses blind by filling their heads full with empirically unverifiable narratives.

    Please try to recognize, that two wrongs do not make right. Yes. Capitalism is guilty of subordinating justice, the rule of law and sustainable economic development to unregulated market forces that are based on a fairy tale and information asymmetry. But so is Orbán, Putin, Trump, Farrage, Le Pen, and all of the leaders of the falsely labelled right-wing “populist” movements who profess to love the people they are leading down the garden path. (Kim loves his people very much, huh Mr. Trump, er, Dr. Horváth ?)

    Why break up Europe? Why not fix-it instead?

  8. Dear Andràs, thank you for your respectful and polite comments .. I agree that Nationalism and Internationalism must coexist and that the global economy is a HARMONIOUS intervened economic relationship to assure the survival of the planet. Please realize that ‘’populist’’ leaders got elected ONLY because most people feel that the ‘’establishment’’ doesn’t care ANY MORE about poverty, jobs, crime, health care, families, education, decent old-age pensions and capital access for entrepreneurs. Today politicians seem to care only about glamor issues like ‘’global warming’’ and the ‘’migrant issues’’ etc. Yes some of these ‘’populist’’ leaders also made serious mistakes… but between two wrongs people choose the lesser one. As far as the E.U. it is perceived by most as a non elected, dictatorial undemocratic colonial power by a few favored countries over other countries considered as ‘’markets’’. So I am not surprised at all that BREXIT, TRUMP AND ORBAN were favored in the democratic processes.

    However, I ALSO AGREE with you ‘’…Why break up Europe? Why not fix-it instead?…’’… WHY NOT if everyone would agree … in a democratic process. 2000 years ago the PAX ROMANA was achieved by power but did not last… neither will any other forced globalized solution as I outlined it in my book CAPITALlessISM, A macro-Model for a strong National Economy … in order to achieve a global harmonized cooperating world economy. http://www.capitallessism.com You see, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, Hitler, Communism … they all dreamed to establish a borderless empire and they all failed. A LASTING PAX BRUSSEL-la can be achieved (a) only by a democratic process respecting human aspirations for freedom and in quest of happiness…. and guided by an unexplainable ‘’god-factor’’ perception in most people, nested in respective cultures and national identities. (b) These aspirations can only be achieved with an international capital generation/distribution process to fuel the needed development of nations.
    Capital and freedom are the glue that will hold together a NEW REFORMED E.U. THAT WILL BECOME THE MODEL FOR THE WORLD COMMUNIITY. If the sovereign nations of the European community can find harmony with the diversity of their cultures and cooperate with each other on economic issues … this is the answer to ’…Why break up Europe? Why not fix-it instead?…’’… thank you for your comments

  9. Dear János… I thank you also for your rather emotion filled reply, but I did not find any RATIONAL ARGUMENTS to support your views. You have profusely listed insinuations, spiced with flair-ups, such as ’’… semi-fascistic, pseudo-sovereignist outbursts, so familiar by now from the neofascists of European fatcats like Orban and Salvini..’’ but NO RATIONAL. You also lost your cool with Lord Lilley…. However, I agree with you that ‘’…. the planet is in mortal danger …’’ … but not from democratically elected SOUVEREIGN STATES but from self-appointed autocratic non-elected commissaries, who THINK that they have the ‘’god-given’’ right to impose rules/regulations on member states without their consent. This ”pseudo-dictatorship” infuriates member nations that survived for near 2000 years in Europe. Amazingly, after the fall of the Roman Empire, in Rome the Vatican took over the role of an E.U. for sanctioning the legitimacy to exist for many nations in the Christian heritage … almost as the United Nations. Lets study this.

    Reading over your correspondence with Lord Lilley, I think in my humble opinion, that you didn’t understand neither the British character and neither the significance of BREXIT. The British and many Europeans also see the E.U. leadership as too dictatorial. About the british charaacter, …what the British think, say and do may be three different things. The British pride dominated the empire for many centuries and will never accept the dictatorship of Brussels. Historically the British won the war over Napoleon and over Hitler, not by force but by shrewd diplomacy. They gained time and made allies who defeated their enemies. In my analysis the British created BREXIT to slap the E.U. publicly and gave the signal for the start of an international discontentment movement over the E.U. This legitimacy of BREXIT created the British, gave the momentum to the rise of suppressed national feelings and resulted the elections of so called ‘’populist’’ leaders, who did nothing wrong but listened to their electors, like Trump, Orban, LePens and Salvini etc. The British gained allies. I personally think BREXIT never intended to leave the E.U. but only to weaken it and shake up its leadership. Now that many countries are talking about leaving the E.U., Brussel might soften up its intransigence and give member states much more voice and freedom …. exactly as the British have calculated it… a new reformed E.U. I think that the future of the E.U. lies by studying the 2000 year history of Europe. Many forces, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, the Ottoman Empire, Napoleon, the British Empire, Hitler, Communism wanted to dominate Europe under a dictatorship… they all failed…. Janos do you think that this new imposed borderless open society concept and the forced on migrant invasion regulations will succeed …? A new reformed E.U. designed on democratic lines and built with souvereign states cooperating with each other is the future… with the help of an international capital generation / distribution for their development. Thank you for your comments …

  10. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Dr Horváth

    The dynamics of history are not as complex as you think and are based on rather different foundations than the ones you posted in this underpass. Since there is a lot of noise down here, it’s not easy to concentrate. I will simplify.

    The liberal establishment mismanaged the transition into industrial capitalism from the end of the 19th century on. That failure enabled populist affinity fraud artists – fascists or bolshies like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Horthy, Szálasi, Rákosi, Mao etc to mislead their long exploited “Common People” with their anti-establishment, anti-liberal, empirically unverifiable utopian fairy tales, love stories that appeal to the emotions of the down-and-out. That populist affinity-fraud produced 300 million deaths globally in the span of 30 years between 1914 and 1945.

    The post-WWII liberal establishment has committed a similar “transition” failure as its elders, this time with the transition from “machine” to “cyber” capitalism. Neo-fascist, neo-Bolshi affinity-fraud artists have gone back to the same toolshed, harnessing the anger and frustration of the systematically mislead and exploited masses. “Populist” fraud artists like Salvini, Orbán, Chi, Kim, Putin, Trump have learnt from their forefathers’ mistakes. The liberals have not. Love-story spinners like Trump, or his butcher friend in Saudi Arabia or North Korea have mastered the technique of making crime pay as their populations cheer them on. (Remember what the Donald said? He could shoot someone in the face in the middle of NYC’s busiest boulevard, and he would still be elected President.)

    I’m afraid, Dr. Horváth the future does not look rosy. Bob Dylan had a better shot of the future than your learned colleagues in the ivory tower. Unless we unmask the secret of the hold these affinity fraud artists hold on the ill-informed masses, unless we engage “the people” and show them how their leaders are taking them to the slaughter house again, a hard rain’s gonna fall, and much sooner than we think. The only thing I can reassure you with is this: if you stick to your research agenda in the ivory tower, the number of casualties produced by the populist affinity-fraud artists’ exploitation of liberalism’s latest failures will greatly exceed the numbers produced by their forefathers shortcomings. Please don’t keep on truckin’…

  11. Sandor Kerekes says:

    My dear Dr. Horváth, I am afraid I won’t be able to give a serious answer to your rebuttal. To begin with, just like the good lord, you misprinted my name. That is only significant because it is a proof positive about your reading ability.
    My dear doctor your arguments are so flimsy that I cannot really devote myself to answer, or rather correct them all. Unlike the redoubtable Dr. Göllner, who is far more patient than I am and doesn’t mind taking you seriously wherease you don’t deserve that. But I have the feeling that you are punching here well abowe your weight. Nevertheless, I shall call your attention to a few obvious errors of facts, obfuscations and statements, just to help you out in your girlish blushing, not knowing what to say.
    Sir, the ”nonelected commissaries” you probably referring to the European Union, are unanimously elected by the Council and approved by the European Parliament. This is far more democratic, than the Electoral College of the US, where the governors have far and deep influence to effect the outcome.
    The Roman Empire, Sir ended in 1806. After the fall of Rome, the empire flourished economically and militarily, well into the year 1000, until the separation of the East and West Empire. And the Eastern Empire stood, as you well know, into the mid 15th century.
    No sir, the second world war was won by the inexhoustable American military supply, the lend-lease agreement and the endurance of the Soviet Union. Great Brittain would never have been able to resist the Hun. Witness the miserable defeat at Duncerque.
    Sir, if you had followed the debate of Brexit in the British Parliament half as closely as I did, you would not muse foolish about the intention of the Brits about Brexit. This very article I just delivered to you above is proof positive that a narrow ruling elit is trying to gain control over national politics in the UK at a very considerable expense to the populace and one of the chief proponents, Lord Lilley, has not one argument to support the measure. Merely he defends some statements and criticises his opponents, but has no positive argument at all. And about what would happen after the Brexit will be complete he is even more silent: he hopes to be out of Europe, but how he will make a living in GATT he is as oblique as can be.
    As to the borderless Europe, I suggest it is you who needs a refresher in history. There were no nations and no borders in Europe until the 18th century, whats more, there were not even countries there either. And the place was marvellously fertile. Yes, there was always a war somewhere, but even that couldn’t stop progress. Your spiritual masters of the nationalist persuasion have mislead you as they mislead all their followers: there is a much longer and more fecund history of stateless, free, but culturally interconnected Europe than they would be willing or able to admit.
    These were only a few of your misstatements I can deal with in a hurry. But I assure you, your entire note is rife with errors, misstatements and otright ignorance. Sir, it would be very useful if you would look up the facts, before you are pontificating about them.

  12. Dear Sandor .. I sincerely apologize for misprinting your name. … But on the other hand with all due respect sir, you still have not convinced many of your readers about your LOGICAL RATIONAL that an open borderless country without nationalism is LEADING for a better world. …. You were so busy insulting me with more than a dozen times, trying to ridicule my comments that in my opinion you are a disgrace to this respected forum of discussion. I congratulate Mr. Christopher Adams and his objective collaborator team for this forum where different opinions can be presented in serenity in search of a solutions because as you said ‘’… the planet is in mortal danger….’’. Christopher and myself have been working in the same parish with Father Deak, (a true friend and supporter for many projects), for many years in search for solutions for the Hungarian community. I really appreciate the respectful critiques and objective comments by András B. Göllner, because we all learn from each other as nobody owns the truth. So dear Sandor, keep it in mind that we all respect your opinion and your credentials, but it doesn’t give you the right to insult readers who do not share your opinions. Arrogant intolerant attacks like yours may change the nature of this FORUM OF DISCUSSION to a PLATFORM OF PROPAGANDA…. If us, wise academic scholars, we cannot discuss HERE calmly and respectfully our ideological differences, then imagine out in the real world there is no hope for peace without a violent confrontation. I discovered THE HUNGARIAN FREE PRESS as an excellent forum of discussion on many topics for solutions. .. if we want to grow to a respected platform in search for solutions .. TOLARANCE AND RESPECT ARE A MUST … thank you.

  13. Sandor Kerekes says:

    Oh! No, my dear Dr. Horvath, you shall not hide behing your dignity, the tolerance of this forum and your religious credentials. (Or do I detect a whiff of the affinity fraud in your claim of association with Christopher and his church, the very thing Dr. Göllner so assidiously is warning against?) Actually, contrary to your claim, you have not been insulted, or treated disrespectfully. Only your statements and false claims were and deservedly so.
    The fact of the matter Dear Doctor is that the errors, the misleading claims and the intentional distortions are not deserving tolerance nor respect. If you are retailing nationalism and soveraignty here, without providing a definition of what they actually mean, then you are indeed spreading harmful ideas. Of course, you are entitled to your opinions and to publicize them, but if you do, you must be determined to withstand the criticism they will engender. And if you are offended by the criticism, then it is your personal problem and I have no sympathy for you whatsoever. Be offended, by all means but how convincing can you be, when even the basic facts you are lacking.
    My most vociferous opposition is going agains your unfortunate fear-mongering about soveraign states and nationalism. Mostly, because sovereignity is a nebulous, abstract constract that can easily mean anything to anybody and is only as tenable as the country is willing and able to defend by military means. The sovereignty that cannot be defended, or enforced by military might is a worthless scrap of talk. And this worthless talk is sir, what you are producing here.
    The European Union, the ”great Satan” you complain about, is the relief from the imperative to defend the soveraignty of its member countries, by virtue of having prior agreement to settle disputes by peaceful, democratic means. If this, sir, looks distastful to you, then I must say the fault lies with your taste.
    These are, naturally, impersonal remarks, but if you feel you are offended, then it is fine by me, althogh I fail to see why that should be so. Thank you and good afternoon sir.

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