Across the Channel, threats, bias and hypocrisy fill the media
On questions of national importance, it’s always good to know what the other side is saying. This last week has highlighted perfectly the mistaken assumptions, bias and hypocrisy, not to mention the threats, emanating from the European media.
Perhaps it’s as well to start with the threats first. Last Friday’s edition of Le Monde, the right leaning French daily, featured an interview with our good friend and president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, whose opening gambit was to vilify the British as ‘deserters’ if they had the temerity to vote Leave. For good measure, he went on to warn of serious consequences if the UK broke with the EU. His denial that this was a threat can perhaps be judged by his final comment that
“the United Kingdom will have to accept being regarded as a third country, which won’t be handled with kid gloves”.
Juncker is well known for his outrageous behaviour, not to mention hypocrisy. In a speech in Brussels in July 2014, he promised to
“try to put some morality, some ethics, into the European tax landscape“.
Unfortunately, documents leaked in the following November, just days after he became head of the Commission, revealed that Luxembourg under his premiership had turned into a major European centre of corporate tax avoidance. With the aid of the Luxembourg government, companies transferred tax liability for many billions of euros to Luxembourg, where the income was taxed at a fraction of 1%. He was duly, and predictably, exonerated by a large majority in the European Parliament. More than anything else, this sorry interview reveals how little Monsieur Juncker understands of the British people. If he had bothered to take advice, he might have learned that there is nothing like threatening the British, particularly over their sovereignty, to elicit a contrary response. So well done, President of the Commission – keep up the good work.
Not to be outdone, El País, the left-leaning Spanish daily, has an interesting opinion piece this week showing again how little our European cousins understand the Brexit standpoint, the inherent bias of their analysis and their hypocrisy. In an auspicious start, the piece begins by claiming that
“the supporters of this (Brexit) option have hidden interests and a largely weak set of arguments”.
It then goes on to say that the supporters of Brexit want to leave a club, yet keep many of the advantages of membership that a thorough analysis reveals. It simply does not appear to have occurred to El País that it is the Spanish who pay nothing in membership fees yet benefit massively from our net contribution. It is a pity they did not stop to think for a minute how much this reveals of their self-interest and hypocrisy.
The editorial consoles itself by commenting that Brexit is unlikely judging by the polls but, in a revealing comment, declares that it would be
“a mortal blow to the arrhythmic heart of the European project”.
Let us hope so.
Over recent weeks, Le Figaro, the centre right French daily, has published a series of articles on the Brexit debate. These set out, very much like El País, how the Remain Camp is gaining ground and how the great and the good are queuing up (or should that be lining up) to support the UK’s continued membership.
As an apologist for the Remain Camp it probably rivals the BBC, with every single article but one over the last week giving prominence to the success of the Remain debate:
- Osborne warns of the risks of Brexit
- G7 fears the worst for the Brexit economy
- Latest polls confirm Remain in the lead
- British scientists anxious about Brexit
- British stars come out against Brexit
- International businesses oppose Brexit
- Tusk reproaches Boris for his Hitler comparison
There is nothing, is there, like a fair and balanced approach to the debate.
Following coverage like this, it is going to come as something of a shock, to say the least, if Brexit prevails.
And finally to the German press and a surprisingly different approach. With far more honesty, Der Spiegel provides a variety of articles on the Brexit debate.
These include an item on how, in the midst of the debate, the EU has no more brains than launch proceedings against the UK’s truck toll.
It also reports, accurately, on the EU strategy cooked up between Cameron and Merkel (complete with photograph of the darling duo) to keep Britain in the EU. Its report reveals that the EU leaders, in a state of some panic at the apparent growth in anti-EU feeling, developed a plan to give in to a weak set of demands from Cameron. Done deliberately to give the illusion of reform, it was nothing more than a cynical exercise in political manipulation.
Finally, it concentrates on the migrant crisis and the response in Austria, observing that the voters are increasingly turning right, including to Brexit, in an effort to assuage the flood of refugees.
They may well be right.