Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

Rarely in the confusing fog of post-Leave news coverage is there a greater responsibility on the BBC and other public service broadcasters to be fearless in reporting the consequences of Brexit.

For much of commerce and industry the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 is the tipping point for decisions on future investment and the transfer of jobs to the European Union.

Project Deception - the cover-up over the Brexit downside - is still in full swing in Brexit-supporting newspapers such as the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Telegraph which wilfully continue to deprive their readers of news about the employment opportunities haemorrhaging away to the EU.

The challenge to the BBC, ITV News and Sky News is to offer viewers and listeners a detailed assessment and analysis of the decisions being made.

News that London, as expected, is losing both the European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency -- to Paris and Amsterdam respectively -- with the loss of 2,000 jobs, was almost completely ignored by the Brextremist press on Tuesday 21 November 2017.

This hammer blow for London and the wider UK financial and pharmaceutical industry was relegated to nine lines at the bottom of page four in the Daily Mail; two sentences at the bottom of page nine in the Sun; two paragraphs at the bottom of page four in the Daily Telegraph; and ignored by the UKIP-supporting Daily Express.

(The nine lines in the Daily Mail  -- see image -- are marked with a black square close to the bottom of the fifth column).

Filtering out bad news that does not suit their agenda is stock in trade for the tabloids, but is all the more reason why the BBC and its fellow broadcasters should stand up to the bullying of the Brexiteers and the baying headline writers, columnists and commentators on papers such as the Daily Mail and the Sun.

Much-abused Brussels bureaucrats like Michel Barnier make constant to reference to the clock ticking down to the UK's exit from the EU on March 29, 2019.

Why is there no similar recognition by the British news media that the clock is ticking just as fatefully on the decisions being made about jobs and investment?

Although in-depth news reporting is in rapid decline in the UK's provincial and local newspapers due to falling circulations, the BBC still commands vast journalistic resources through its regional services and local stations.

The BBC could easily compile a weekly tally of the decisions being taken across the country:

How many present and future jobs are being lost nationally because of Brexit?

What is the extent of the delay or abandonment of future investment?

Are new product lines -- such as the next generation of car models -- being lost to other European plants?

These are the announcements that will be coming thick and fast as we enter 2018 -- decisions that have been held back in the hope of clarity about the UK's future position in the single market and the customs union.

What viewers and listeners crave is an authoritative pull together of what is happening with the various options and outcomes assessed and analysed.

The last time such a seismic change was afoot was in the 1980s at the height of the closures and redundancies of the Thatcher decade when nationalised industries were closed down and privatisation took hold.

Unlike the BBC, cowed at the time by Thatcherite bullying, ITN's flagship news bulletin, News at Ten, ran a weekly count of the jobs lost and gained during the structural changes that swept through Britain's industrial heartlands -- until ITN's coverage was finally forced off the air due to Downing Street protests.

Far too much of the BBC's coverage since the 2016 vote to leave has been devoted to the soap opera surrounding the Theresa May's ill-fated snap general election and the resulting infighting involving Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

For the pro-Brexit popular press there is another dimension to Project Deception: the objective is to blame Brussels for every failure in the negotiations, a blame game that will pin responsibility on the European Commission if the end result is no deal.

I despair that the BBC has thrown in the towel, too fearful to demonstrate the power and influence of its journalism, too anxious to avoid a backlash from leading Brexit ministers and Conservative MPs.

Such has been the abuse of Remainers -- and the vilification of those explaining what was dubbed Project Fear -- that there is a dearth of objective analysis and assessment of what is at stake.

The promise that Europe would be clamouring for a deal with the sixth largest economy -- that we would soon be enjoying "the sunny uplands of Brexit" -- hardly square with the grim figures announced in the Budget by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, and the indication that the UK will be one of the slowest growing economies in the next five years.