Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

As collateral damage from deficiencies in the EU withdrawal agreement cause ever-increasing disruption, Brexit supporting newspapers are grudgingly having to face the reality that they can no longer go on fooling their readers about the sunny uplands awaiting Global Britain.

Readers of the UK’s mass-circulation, Brexit-supporting newspapers have been spared the grim details of the reality facing hundreds of thousands of musicians, actors and artists who have lost the prospect of employment across the European Union.

Broadcasters – and especially those at the BBC – are being urged by the campaigner Gina Miller to refrain from harking back to the Leave and Remain arguments of two years ago and to focus instead on the process of the UK exiting the European Union.

In her view, there was still much too much reporting of a sterile Brexit debate that was still dominated by lies and untruths and too little reporting of the facts and figures surrounding the UK’s departure.

Ms Miller delivered a passionate plea for more analysis on future UK-EU arrangements in a speech after the presentation of the annual Charles Wheeler award to the Channel 4 News presenter Michael Crick at the University of Westminster.  (19.6.2018) where she was the guest of the British Journalism Review.

“This harking back to the arguments of two years ago is not helpful. We need to be hearing about the position today, hearing from the experts, and the broadcasters should be asking questions to see what is happening, to see if we are we are exiting the EU in a way without hurting this country.

When Theresa May finally acknowledged in the House of Commons that the UK would be worse off economically after Brexit, she posed questions the British news media should attempt to answer:

“How many jobs are being threatened by Brexit?”

“And, more importantly, how many have been lost already?”

No answers are likely from Brexit-supporting newspapers that command 70 per cent of national sales and readership.

Not only will there be no attempt to explain or justify the loss of output and employment, but the Brextremist press will carry on their cover-up, continuing to totally ignore news stories that point to halted investments, declining job opportunities and a damaging exodus of talented staff.

Unrelenting pro-Brexit propaganda – exaggerating positive forecasts but ignoring harsh facts – represents a massive challenge to the multiplicity of groups and factions fighting to reverse the UK’s departure from the EU single market and customs union.

The only way to counter the Brexiteers’ falsehoods is to fight them with factual data and analysis, but what is so lacking is a co-ordinated media strategy to counter misrepresentation.

When the news broke in June that the Greek public broadcaster ERT had been closed down, taken off the air, I found the justification of the Greek government provided an uncanny throwback to events in Britain.

Throughout the run-up to the 2010 general election, David Cameron, as leader of the Conservative Party, had been at the forefront of the demands to freeze the BBC licence fee.

Within three months of taking office, the coalition government formed by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had imposed a 20 per cent reduction in the BBC’s spending.

The Greek’s government’s official spokesman accused ERT of being “a haven of waste”.  He said it had displayed “an exceptional lack of transparency” and had done nothing to end “incredible extravagance”.

Conservative politicians promoted a similar line when the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne justified his October 2010 spending review which included a six-year freeze on the BBC’s licence fee, cutting the the BBC’s income by £1 billion a year by 2015.