Tory MPs are attacking the BBC for not telling the public fairytales about Brexit

As someone who consumes the corporation’s economic coverage daily as part of my job, I can tell you that the people it hires to cover that sort of thing have faithfully reported every set of numbers

James Moore
Tuesday 21 March 2017 13:49 GMT
MPs have accused the BBC of being unable to break out of its 'pre-referendum pessimism'
MPs have accused the BBC of being unable to break out of its 'pre-referendum pessimism' (PA)

Donald Trump might have sunk to record levels of unpopularity across the Atlantic, but that hasn’t stopped 72 Brexiteer MPs from taking a leaf out of his playbook.

The august Parliamentarians have come together to form a little corp of Trump-kin Mini-Mes by signing a letter lambasting the BBC for its coverage of Brexit.

It claims, among other things, that the corporation’s “pessimistic and skewed reporting” risks undermining the project and damaging Britain in the process.

“It particularly pains us to see how so much of the economic good news we’ve had since June has been skewed by BBC coverage which seems unable to break out of pre-referendum pessimism and accept new facts,” it opines.

Oh dear. New facts. It might just be me but isn’t that chillingly reminiscent of the “alternative facts” conjured by Presidential Counsellor Kellyanne Conway in an attempt to defend the patently false statements of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer concerning the size of the crowd that gathered for President Trump’s inauguration?

As usual the letter cries bias, wailing about the Leave voting constituents who allegedly feel their views have been misrepresented.

Well, sorry, but welcome to the club. There are many Remain voters who feel that the BBC failed to fully expose the lies put about by the Leave camp, such as the patently false claim that leaving would get £350m a week into the NHS.

David Davis says that he has not quantified the economic outcome of getting no deal for Brexit

As for the BBC ignoring “good news” about the economy, well, where’s the evidence? As someone who consumes the corporation’s economic coverage daily as part of my job, I can tell you that the people it hires to cover that sort of thing have faithfully reported every set of numbers, positive or negative, and whether they are above or below the forecasts of the City’s economists.

Unfortunately for the letter’s signatories, if you were to take a cursory view of the economic data you would see that it has been mixed.

It is true that UK plc hasn’t suffered the short term hit many predicted in the wake of the Leave vote. But Britain remains in the EU, with all the benefits that accrue from being a part of the world’s biggest single market.

For the future, when that is not the case, the outlook is much more cloudy.

The strength of a nation’s currency is often seen as a proxy for the view taken by international markets about its economic prospects.

The steep fall in the value of the pound reflects a worrying consensus that Britain is in for a rough ride over the medium to long term.

Prices will inevitably rise and are rising, because it makes the imported goods that fill our shops more expensive. Any basic economic text will tell you that.

That isn’t a new fact or an alternative fact, it is a plain fact that the MPs would simply rather the BBC ignored in favour of signing up to their wilfully deceptive cult.

And there’s more evidence that Brexit won’t be the wonderland Brexiteers pretend, as the MPs would see if they were willing to drag themselves out of their bubble for long enough to talk to businesses.

But, but, but balance! The BBC should find someone to say the economy will go great!

Here’s the thing: that would be like the BBC filling its airwaves with climate change deniers contradicting science. Don’t worry about the planet getting hotter! It’ll go great.

Those who claim that are either deluded. Or they’re lying. There is no such thing as “junk science” which is how the allies of Trump (him again) like to refer to climate change. There is just science. Facts are facts.

Sadly, it’s hardly worth engaging in reasoned debate with people who have to resort whining about the alleged “sneering tone of voice” of BBC presenters to make their case in the absence of any hard evidence, as Tory MP Steve Baker did.

What people like Baker, Iain “hammer of the disabled” Duncan Smith and other Brexit cultists appear to want is for the BBC to tell the British people fairy stories before they go to bed at night. Shhh. Don’t worry. It will all be ok. The economy will sing, the planet isn’t getting hotter, and Elvis didn’t die in 1977. He moved to Wakefield and could be seen singing in working men’s clubs for the next 20 years.

If you can just persuade, or more likely force, others to buy into your fiction it’s so much easier to point and say “well you told everyone what we told everyone so you can’t complain” when it all goes horribly wrong.

It is actually quite striking how cross and unhappy Brexit MPs, who are getting just what they always wanted, seem to be with just about everything. You’d think they’d be celebrating. Instead all they can do is snarl and try to threaten the independence of the state broadcaster.

Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin, and now this sorry lot who will tomorrow puff their chests out and speak of their love for democracy and the “Mother of Parliaments”.

But, but, but some of them voted Remain, I hear you say, including the letter’s author Julian Knight, a former BBC and Independent journalist (and friend of mine I should state at this point).

Doesn’t that give them cover?

Yes, that is true, and unlike the signatories I’m not about to try and pour bleach over a fact. But the point I would make is this. Julian is a MP representing the Brexit Party in the Brexit Government. He and the other Tory Remainers who signed his letter have a clear interest in toeing the Government line and acting as its outriders now it has plunged into the Brexit project with a wild abandon that we will all pay a heavy price for. Their motives are, therefore open to question.

The Conservative Party has a long and shameful history of attacking the BBC when it does its job, in an attempt to divert attention from inconvenient and troubling facts. That the Corbynistas running the Labour Party have stooped to the same thing doesn’t reflect at all well on the state of British democracy.

It is to be hoped that the corporation has the mettle to defend itself and brush off this contemptible intervention for all our sakes.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in