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Daily Mail snaps under pressure

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 22.06.2016

In a twist on the old saying, there are lies, damned lies and Daily Mail editorials. In declaring itself for leave, to no one’s surprise, the paper sets out its reasons in an editorial that is notable for the absence of rational political discourse.

It begins by saying those who advocate remaining have “failed to articulate a single positive reason for staying in the EU” – which is untrue – and have “subjected voters to a barrage of scaremongering”. If the Mail were genuinely concerned about scaremongering, it would direct its fire at the Leave camp – and, indeed, at itself.

The editorial repeats some favourite Brexiteer canards. We voted to join “nothing more threatening than a tariff-free trading zone”; not true. “Some 50 or 60 per cent of our laws and 70 per cent of regulations are dictated to us by Brussels”; as InFacts has explained, we could equally argue the correct figure is 13%. We do “less than 10 per cent of our total business with the EU”; the EU actually accounts for 44% of our exports. Free movement is “depressing wages”; it has no significant effect. The EU is “institutionally incapable of meaningful reform”; if this were really the case, and it is not, Brexiteers would not be spinning conspiracy theories about the Five Presidents’ Report. The Mail finds room to resurrect the fallacy that there will be a European army, which there won’t be, can’t be, unless Britons vote for it in a referendum.

On top of these reheated myths it takes a swing at the EU for being undemocratic. Its lawmakers are not “accountable through the ballot box to the 500 million people they rule” and the “EU is ruled by a secretive, unelected commission, whose diktats are backed by a court able to override elected democracies”, the paper contends.

This is flatly wrong. The power to pass legislation rests with the European Parliament, which is composed of elected representatives, and the Council of Ministers, which is composed of elected officials. These people are directly accountable to those they represent.

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It would be odd, on the other hand, if the Mail is backing Leave to remove the influence of unelected judges and bureaucrats from the lawmaking process. For we do not elect judges and civil servants in Britain.

And far from slavishly backing the Commission’s “diktats”, the European Court of Justice frequently overrides it, just as British courts regularly overrule the government. That is, after all, the point of a court; it upholds the rule of law. What’s more, by providing impartial rulings the ECJ stops EU law being a matter of tedious multilateral negotiation.

After the obligatory pop at faceless bureaucrats, the Mail magnanimously concedes “we cannot predict exactly what will happen if we pull out”. This is perfectly true, but we can make educated predictions, and every serious analysis has shown that we would be poorer out. (Of course, given the Leave camp’s view of experts, it may prefer uneducated guesses.)

After a brief bout of scaremongering about Turkey – which is not joining any time soon – the Mail turns back to “our destiny”. If we leave, it says, we will be “free to strike deals with any country we like”. The thing is that the other countries also have to want to cut deals. In all likelihood, we would find ourselves far back in the queue if we left, with less negotiating power.

The Mail has a lot to say on this matter, and there is too much to rebut here. Brexiteers’ talk about our lack of influence in Europe is bunkum. We are, as they say, the world’s fifth-largest economy. We are a major military power and we have a seat on the UN Security Council. We have a long and proud history of solving the world’s problems, not turning our back on our neighbours when they need us most.

A vote to stay is a vote to lead Europe. You will only get one chance at this. You must seize it.

The Daily Mail did not respond to requests for comment.

Edited by Alan Wheatley

One Response to “Daily Mail snaps under pressure”

  • There is something almost frightening about the liberties the DM takes with the facts and the way it sticks its knife into those it doesn’t like.