The prime minister claims trouble in Northern Ireland is the EU’s fault. There’s an impolite word for that

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally spotted one of those “Brexit opportunities” cited in the job title of the cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg. Thanks to the UK’s departure from the European Union, the British government has gifted us with an apparently bottomless supply of industrial-strength bullshit.

I use the term in the sense distilled by the eminent philosopher Harry G Frankfurt, whose bestselling treatise, On Bullshit, defined it as speech intended to persuade without regard for truth. While your basic liar cares about the truth enough to hide it, the pedlar of bullshit is unbothered whether their words are true or false, so long as the listener is persuaded. Insouciance towards the facts is the essential trait. The Brexit project was always rich in bullshit – the £350m on the side of the bus could have come straight from Frankfurt’s essay – so it’s hardly a surprise that this government of Brexiters has become a world-beating producer of the stuff.

Jonathan Freedland is a Guardian columnist

He will join a Guardian Live online event on 21 June to discuss the life of Rudolf Vrba, a young man who escaped Auschwitz and helped save over 200,000 lives. Book tickets here

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