THE ROLE OF BRITISH MEDIA AND TRENDS ON THE BREXIT DEBATE
(Two to Days to Vote)
By: Harry C. Blaney III
REPORTING FROM LONDON
On Monday, the campaign debate on the Brexit went back to full fury. The media has been highly partisan, favoring the Leave Campaign in its coverage and support. As has come to be commonplace, the immigration issue seems to have the most traction with many among pro-Leave supporters; while economics, trade, security, and a desire to play a meaningful role in Europe takes highest priority among those who want to Remain in the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn (the leader of the Labour Party) has said that he supports Remain, but has made a very poor argument filled with vagaries in support of the campaign, as well as saying that, no matter the outcome of the referendum, he will work within it. Most Labour MPs are for remaining, but Corbyn’s trepidation is not new – he sees the EU as of mixed value. Many working-class people who are very angry with the current state of Britain and its globalizing economy say they will vote to Leave.
SURVEY OF MEDIA OPINON AND COVERAGE:
The right wing Daily Mail, as opposed to its sister Daily Mail on Sunday, showed its preference with many long articles and editorials taking predominately the Leave position. This is directly in opposition to the Sunday edition, which strongly was for keeping in the EU.
David Cameron had a very rough time with both the moderator and much of the questions from the audience on the BBC’s “Question Time,” as both moderator and audience appeared to be against the EU and questioners were clearly angry at a perceived loss of control and economic hopes within Britain. Time and time again, the public funded BBC programs seem to have sided with the Leave campaign in their coverage. That’s strange for a so-called establishment organization, but it seems to be following the Euro-skeptic trend in the Conservative Party.
The Rupert Murdoch-controlled Sky News gives preference to the Leave Campaign, as do most of the TV channels.
The Sunday Times, also largely owned by the Murdoch family and News Corp, came out with a negative view of the EU and said: “The EU’s elites have failed in the Euro crisis, sacrificing a generation of young Europeans to inactivity and despair. Now they have failed to advert British disaffection with a moribund project. On Thursday, therefore we should vote ‘leave’”.
As expected, the right wing Tory supporting Sunday Telegraph was against staying and said that “the EU belongs to the past.”
The tabloid The Sun on Sunday also came out on the Leave side saying: “Just four days from now we can set Britain free. Free from the stranglehold of the EU superstate…has grown into a monster engulfing our democracy.”
THE PARTY AND GROUP DEBATES:
Boris Johnson, the right-wing Conservative MP who hopes to be Prime Minister after Cameron, made a caustic speech telling women to vote Leave in order to take control of your family’s destiny. He added that the only way to end this tidal wave of gloom from the Government is to vote Leave. Following the lines of Trumpesque hyperbole, Johnson called on voters to “take back control of this great country’s destiny” in the Daily Telegraph. And again, echoing Donald Trump’s anti-immigrat racism, Johnson called on Britain to regain control of its borders.
However, Baroness Warsi, a key leader in the Conservative Party and a Muslim woman, switched from supporting Leave to siding with Remain because of the racist and controversial pro-Brexit poster produced by Nigel Farage and his UKIP party discussed in yesterday’s post.
OTHER FORCES AT WORK:
If Britain leaves the EU, this would impact other nations such as France, Italy, and Spain. Some polls show that nearly half of these nations think that leaving the EU would be beneficial. As in Britain, there are many right-wing and authoritarian parties on the continent that support leaving.
Over 75 percent of large UK companies say they want to stay in the EU and such companies are siding to “Remain.” Smaller companies are less supporting staying.
A recent poll in Northern Ireland showed that 48 percent want to remain in the EU and 32 percent favor leaving. The Northern Irish Nationalist Party (which favors unity with Ireland) seems to tend towards staying in the EU. Most say that Scotland also prefers Remain.
With two days before the vote, the outcome still remains uncertain and the debate is very heated. The Sunday Times poll conducted last Thursday and Friday showed 44-43 percent Remain led, which was a change from the last Monday’s YouGov poll results that revealed that Leave led by seven points.
Today, I talked to a London sales man of African descent who is a British citizen who votes mostly for Labour. He favored the Leave Campaign, worried about immigration, even though he is from an immigrant family himself, and talked about regaining British control. I also heard from a well-educated elderly woman, daughter of an Anglican Bishop– as British as British could be – who is campaigning actively for Remain in the North of England and resents the racism and nastiness of the Leave Campaign. As a Christian, she said she welcomes help for refugees and those seeking security and a better life.
It is likely that the vote is going to be close and thus this sense of anger and divide may not end with this vote no matter what side wins. There is a major debate on the BBC tonight which we will comment on in our next post.
More in our next report from London.
We welcome your comments at the very end of this post page!
Check out our Brexit Page for more coverage.