It’s time to call off the anti-Brexit Festival of Fear

It’s time to call off the anti-Brexit Festival of Fear

It may be that as a long-standing supporter of Brexit I’m a little biased, but I do wonder when I see the television and read the newspapers whose side the correspondents and pundits are on in what is after all a conflict of national interests.

I can understand the fears and doubts we are being deluged with. Business wants to stay in, universities need the money, farmers love the CAP, we don’t have the expertise or the brain power to negotiate, the City will collapse, manufacturers, banks and multinationals will leave and God help us. That’s what happens when vested interests are upset, but it’s the responsibility of journalists to bring some balance to the argument and evaluate their complaints, not just amplify them.

Yet none of this festival of fear is ever set in perspective against the growing deficit we run in trade with the EU, the crippling effect of the Euro on our markets there, or the disproportionate membership fees to belong to a club that drains us, compelling us to accept an agricultural protectionism that’s not in our interests and stops us coming to trade deals with outer nations.

Nor is there any coverage of the divisions and doubts which must exist in an EU which has never shown the total unanimity attributed to it on the British case on anything else. Instead of exploring these, every Euro loudmouth who threatens us with ruin is taken as bearing a unanimous view, negotiating bluster becomes gospel truth and an enormous bill cooked up to protect the others from having to pay more, and to finance British sweet manufacturers moving to Poland, is treated as a debt of honour. The defence of EU citizens here extends to giving them greater rights than the Brits as well as the entitlement to student loans, which they can then hide back home without paying off.

Instead of balancing Euro motes against British beams, the sycophantic Euro-chorus claims that the Eurobank’s enormous money printing has solved all the problems of an unworkable Euro, Germany’s selfish accumulation of huge surpluses which it refuses to spend or distribute is sound economics, and Macron’s proposals to reform the EU by another dose of closer union has not only been accepted but is working its magic after two weeks.

The lack of balance is particularly striking in my beloved Guardian, usually a source of liberal sense but now gone overboard in its Euro enthusiasm. A paper on the edge of bankruptcy has wasted I-don’t-know-how-much creating a pro-European pop-up paper, edited by Tony’s representative on earth. Its pundits – Toynbee, Hutton, Keegan, Freedland, Jack and Kettle – waste no time discussing how the wishes of the electorate can be fulfilled. They aim only to reverse it. Everything the EU demands or does is right. Every move the British government makes is wrong. The old adage that ‘comment is free but facts are sacred’ has become ‘comment is free if it’s pro-EU but facts are selective’. What happened to balance?

All this is heightened by the imperatives of 24-hour news which can’t think long term and is obsessed with the day-to-day trivia. Both are dangerous when negotiations are long-term, uncertain and characterised by bluster which is taken as fact. Journalists tend to be liberal intellectuals rather than informed analysts. They follow the herd instincts of the Guardian and the posh print media. Those covering Europe (with the exception of Boris Johnson) become more European than British. Look at the Guardian‘s Natalie Nougayrede whose gushing admiration of the EU is more a love affair than journalism.

It’s a depressing spectacle and one the European negotiators don’t have to contend with. It is right that the media should play down xenophobia and draw attention to British problems. They’re not there to exude contentment. But it is not right that they should be so unbalanced and so blind to both national interests and hard economic realities. We need a media which will make us think, not just splutter with anger at the trahison des clercs.