Why are we here? Because we believe in the power of fact. Fact was gagged in the referendum campaign. Fear and confusion had louder voices in the places people met, the newspapers they read and the TV they watched.
Now, in the whirlpool of the aftermath, we want to gather the facts on how the United Kingdom we all thought we knew is already altered, facing a future we can barely guess at.
How long do we have to find our way to safety? One year? Two years? Does anybody really know? We need to catalogue the changes, to check whether the immediate cracks are continuing to widen and ask whether that’s what we intended.
We are seeking the experience of businesses, workers, farmers, of nurses, teachers, researchers, of people on the streets from all the parts of our nation. NowWeKnow will put that all together as a reliable, fact-checked, evidence-based source so that you can keep your finger on the pulse of Britain.
That may help point the way ahead – but only if the facts come first.
How did we get here?
Since the referendum result was announced, the financial markets have been in chaos, businesses up and down the country have lost contracts amid soaring import prices, and large employers are talking about pulling out of the UK. Meanwhile police say the spike in hate crime is the worst on record.
The initial reaction of the politicians who got us into this was to walk away. David Cameron resigned. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove disappeared from public view, with Johnson withdrawing his widely predicted candidacy for prime minister. So did Andrea Leadsom, while Nigel Farage also resigned from the leadership of Ukip.
The new prime minister, Theresa May, was in favour of Remain. She now proposes to lead us out of the EU even though she thinks it is the wrong thing to do. She has appointed the discredited Boris Johnson to help organise it, as much to his surprise as anyone else’s.
Many of those who voted Leave were encouraged to do so on false promises made by ambitious people like Boris Johnson who by most accounts didn’t actually want to win.
Remember the buses emblazoned with “Let’s give our NHS the £350m the EU takes every week”? Within hours of winning the referendum, Nigel Farage and Iain Duncan Smith were denying they ever said it.
And while many voters backed Leave on the promise of lower immigration, Brexit campaigners like Daniel Hannan MEP admitted the next day that leaving the EU will make no difference.
It’s no wonder many people who voted Leave now say they regret it.
We believe in fairness and the democratic process. But there was nothing fair or accurate about a polls conducted on misinformation and downright lies.
The referendum was advisory, not binding. Three-quarters of MPs were in favour of remaining in Europe. These same MPs now face the challenge of either listening to their constituents who voted to Leave or exercising their political right to vote according their conscience and expertise.
The NowWeKnow campaign wants to help those elected representatives make their decision by conducting a serious investigation into the consequences of the vote to Leave, bringing together all the information on business closures, hate attacks and currency falls on one site.
If you voted Leave and regret your decision, you voted Remain and you want your voice heard, you didn’t vote and now regret it, or you were too young to vote and want to have a say, we will help you get your message through to your MP.
And if you have a story to tell, about an attack in the street or a lost business contract, we want to hear it.
Who are we?
NowWeKnow is the brainchild of James Long, a writer, ex BBC News correspondent, charity trustee and entrepreneur currently engaged in an ethical business start-up.
Like many people, he believes Brexit spells a long drawn-out disaster for most people in the UK. He also believes there were major democratic deficits in the way the EU referendum was constructed and the way it was run, and that no one should try to overturn a proper democratic process except by an even more democratic route.
Joan Bakewell – broadcaster and peer
AC Grayling – philosopher
Darren Johnson – former London Assembly member
Ian Marchant – writer
Sandi Toksvig – broadcaster and founder of Women’s Equality Party