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Hoax Alert

Fake News: Northern Ireland NOT to Be Renamed 'West Belgium' in Brexit Deal

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 14 Nov 2018 13:01:16 Z)

Will Northern Ireland be renamed "West Belgium" according to the latest proposed Brexit deal? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a satirical website but several people were sharing it online without that context. The whole thing is not real.

The story originated from an article published by The Daily Mash on November 14, 2018 titled "Northern Ireland re-named 'West Belgium' in Brexit deal" (archived here) which opened:

THE finalised Brexit deal imposes full EU rules on Northern Ireland, changes its official language to Flemish, bans religion and renames it West Belgium.

The deal also creates a 190-mile tidal barrier down the length of the Irish Sea which UK citizens can only cross via a customs point on the Isle of Man but EU citizens can pass through wherever they like.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier said: "I don't think anyone can have any problem with this.

Screenshot of https://www.thedailymash.co.uk/politics/politics-headlines/northern-ireland-re-named-west-belgium-in-brexit-deal-20181114179420

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Northern Ireland re-named 'West Belgium' in Brexit deal

THE finalised Brexit deal imposes full EU rules on Northern Ireland, changes its official language to Flemish, bans religion and renames it West Belgium.

Speaking as someone from Belgium, there are several reasons why this seems unlikely:

  • The Belgian royals are quite Catholic, banning religion would not appeal to them.
  • There's no way Flemish would become the official lanugage without heavy compensations being demanded by the French-speaking minority in Belgium. If you think negotiating Brexit is complicated you haven't seen any Belgian politicians negotiate among themselves. The famous art of the "Belgian Compromise" consists of negotiating as long as it takes to reach a deal that makes everybody equally unhappy.

The Daily Mash is a satirical website from the U.K. which sports following disclaimer on its about page:

About the Daily Mash

The Daily Mash is a satirical website which publishes spoof articles, i.e. it is all made-up and is not intended, in any way whatsoever, to be taken as factual. Glad we've got that sorted.

Their articles are generally quite funny but now and then they get mistaken for real news.

We wrote about thedailymash.co.uk before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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