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Europe Brexit?

Rothermere thinks. He might even think of Brexit as “Dacre’s last stand”. And if any of the papers is likely to have a major influence it will be the Mail. They are the most dangerous in my view.” However Emmot goes on to make the important point

that the proprietors want to be on the right side of the final outcome. “I don’t think any of Murdoch, Barclays or Rothermere will want to be on the losing side. All three would likely make their minds up once they decide whether Cameron looks like he might have a strong hand or not.” It is often taken for granted that the Guardian is pro- European but the paper has run major pieces by Owen Jones, Sir Simon Jenkins and Paul Mason trashing the EU and in the case of Jones a call to quit the EU, perhaps the only policy the new Lochinvar of left journalism shares with Nigel Farage. Other left journalists like Mehdi Hassan or Peter Wilby of

the New Statesman have said they would consider voting Out and in Wilby’s case when he was editor of the New Statesman he constantly turned down pieces on the EU which sought to counter the other main political weekly, the Spectator, which is obsessively anti-European on every page. Journalists knowledgeable about Europe are thin on the ground. And such as do exist cannot offset the overwhelming Eurosceptic tone of the broadcast media. At times the Today programme or Andrew Neill’s endless political TV programmes sound like Radio Spectator or Daily Mail Television as every cliché against Europe is repeated by presenters who have grown up with the curled lip and easy sneer of the superior mono-lingual Brit when talking about Europe in recent years. Nigel Farage is reported to have had 28 outings on Question Time since he became UKIP leader, far more than any other politician though in blatant

From yes to no in 45 years

This year is referendum year as British voters take the momentous decision on whether to support the isolationist calls from Eurosceptic Tories, Ukip and the BNP and vote to leave Europe in the In-Out referendum annnonced by David Cameron on 2013. Since the Sun’s famous “Up Yours Delors” front page 25 years ago the majority of British editors have backed Eurosceptic positions and ensured that coverage and comment has been mainly hostile. Even the Guardian has recently

run major appeals to back Brexit from one of its elder statesman columnists, Sir Simon Jenkins, and the younger rising star of left comment columns, Owen Jones. Forty years ago in the 1975 referendum, every paper bar the Morning Star, supported the In camp. Today there is a massive majority, defined by readers, of papers which is hostile to the EU. Most are owned by offshore proprietors who pay no tax to Britain. Will they maintain their hostility to Europe to the point of telling editor and

journalist to campaign in news and comment columns for a Brexit outcome? The Electoral

Commission and the press supervisory bodies have been spineless in ensuring fair play and balance between the isolationist anti-EU camp and those who believe that Britain should stay in Europe. Meanwhile, the BBC refuses to publish the number of times it invites Nigel Farage onto its flagship Question Time, Any Question and major news and current TV and radio programmes.

contempt for freedom of information norms the BBC refuses to publish a list of the politicians it invites onto QT! Assuming 2016 is the year of the referendum those who oppose Brexit start with a massive disadvantage of decades of ideological anti-EU hostility by British editors and journalists. Brexit may yet be defeated but if so it will be a defeat for the way the British off-shore owned press has written about Europe in the past 25 years.

Denis MacShane is a former NUJ president, Labour MP and Europe Minister. He is author of Brexit : How Britain Will Leave Europe published by IB Tauris

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