So, a leading French TV journalist has become the second in that country to be suspended due to allegations involving “influence buying in the international media”. Investigators are looking into what is reported to be “a growing world of disinformation”.
Can we believe what we read in the press, watch on television or listen to on the radio? A person I spoke to only last week told me: “I don’t follow the news any more, I certainly don’t buy newspapers. News highlights pop-up on my phone but I don’t know how true they are.”
Sunday newsppaper headlines in the UK announced that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “..ready to derail…” the Prime Minister’s plan to strike a deal with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Only hours later House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt was reported saying that Johnson’s intervention was “not entirely unhelpful”.
In the past week I have had several tip offs that there is “more to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation than perhaps you realise”. I must state absolutely that I do not believe a word of what I was being told “off-the-record” concluding rather that these were attempts to use me to promote scandal for some political purpose.
Which brings me to, as always, the issue of Brexit. Leading figures have been posting anti-Brexit comments on Twitter and other social media ever since the decision to leave the EU was taken. What they never do is explain to those who read them what the alternatives were, are or should be.
At this point I must explain that as an old fashioned journalist I do not take political positions. Brexit, the election of governments are decisions for voters and the people they elect.
What does interest me are headlines and stories that are increasingly for or against some issue or other. Big at the moment is that the UK makes fewer cars than it has done for 60 years.
When the UK joined the EEC in 1973 Britain was in a period of long recession. A report I found referred to the car industry then as follows: “in the 1970’s the (UK) car industry was mainly British owned but characterised by difficult trade unions, under investment and often weak management”.
Another report stated that “The collapse of MG Rover in 2005 left the British car manufacturing sector dominated by foreign firms.” Another reported that: “In 2009 UK car production fell below one million for the first time in decades”. Reports I found recently state that in 2014 when Britain was importing components for cars, Germany and France were obtaining 60 percent of theirs from domestic production. That same year, it was reported, fourteen of the world’s largest parts firms were based in Germany, Japan, USA and France.
Another report in 2014 predicted that in a downturn foreign firms would cut and run. According to the Bank of England the balance of trade and services has been in deficit since 1998.
Throughout Britain’s membership of the EU economic negatives were the norm. Famous car brands like Rolls Royce and Mini were taken over by Volkswagen and BMW. Landrover was sold to TATA in India. Lotus was bought by Geely Auto of China. The iconic Mini is now made all over the world including India, Thailand and Maastricht.
I have written about the role of the City of London before. So suffice to say the City’s contribution to GDP which once stood somewhere around 65 percent (depending on the calculation used) is now 22 percent. Much of the City has moved to other European centres possibly in some cases due to incentives offered while the UK was a member of the EU but likely more as a result of Brexit.
I was struck to read that in 2014 Pfizer’s bid for AstraZeneca “…created a poltical storm around foreign ownership of British business”. In 2010 Kraft foods had taken over the inherently British firm Cadbury. And so it goes on…
I am keenly aware that the EU is making bilateral trade deals with most Commonwealth countries and that this spells yet more doom laden headlines for the future.
Britain joined the EEC in 1973 following a Treaty Signed by Prime Minister Edward Heath in 1972. A report at the time stated that “Britain joined to avoid economic decline”. The UK became the second biggest contributor to the EU budget.
One report I found gave me pause for thought given the headlines in the past few days about Britain’s declining defence role. It stated: “If British growth rates before the Thatcher revolution were lower than France, Germany and Italy this was not because she (the UK) was a late member of the EEC but due to high overseas defence spending that led to continuous balance of payments concerns”. It went on to point out that the British Army of the Rhine increased the German Trade Surplus whilst increasing the UK trade deficit.
According to a former US Ambassador to Ukraine, broadcast this weekend, on the BBC there is “disunity in Europe over weaponry for Ukraine”. He attributed the EU division to energy concerns saying that “the Brits and Poles embarrassed Germany” (into supporting weapons for Ukraine).
Perhaps the most important comment broadcast this weekend was from Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs and former vice-President of the European Commission Frans Zimmermans saying the EU wants to move on from Brexit. Perhaps they realise that an important military ally is about to go under.
- Do They Deserve a Second Chance? asks Chris White.
- “There’ll Always be an England… but England is not free…” writes Chris White