It seems like a ritual now. If Mark Mardell is presenting The World This Weekend and the main topic is Brexit, then the programme's introduction will inevitably frame the issue negatively. This week's framing went like this:
Welcome to The World This Weekend. This is Mark Mardell. Finally! Downing Street promises the Prime Minister will soon set out a roadmap for Brexit but a series of reports suggest the end destination will be grim for the North-East. What do people there make of it?Talking head 1: It is extremely concerning. My biggest fear is having enough of a workforce to be able to substantiate the jobs required. Talking head 2: We're coming up with our own ideas to make sure that once we leave the Single Market and Customs Union we're making the most of the opportunities that leaving Europe will give us.What's the reaction from Labour in the region?
And, straight after the news bulletin, we got this:
It's going to be a week for hearts and flowers, and hearts and minds. On Valentine's Day the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is expected to deliver a passionate speech on why we should all now fall in love with Brexit. Perhaps reassurance is needed, even in the places which were the most enthusiastic about leaving, for it's going to be grim up north, if you believe the forecasters. Dark clouds hover in particular over the north-east of England in the shape of gloomy predictions of life after Brexit. To some the region is getting its comeuppance, reaping what we sowed. 61% in Sunderland voted to leave. To others the predictions are yet more untrustworthy crystal ball-gazing of Remainers, experts and other pessimists.
That last sentence, of course, was 'the balance'!
We heard from Sussex University's Prof. Alasdair Smith, saying "Brexit is bad news for almost all of UK manufacturing" but that motor manufacturing will be particularly badly hit. And a 'hard Brexit' will be especially terrible.
Then came a manufacturer, Tony Bridges, who expressed his concern and wants us to remain in the Single Market and to be "on the inside" as much as possible.
Various depressed vox pops were heard from, including a Leave voter who has now changed his mind and would vote to stay.
The 'balance' came from a Conservative mayor Ben Houchen, who struck a positive note. Mark's tone with him was rather tart and the interruptions flew.
The big closing interview was with a 'second referendum'-favouring Labour MP Phil Wilson, who got a much more sympathetic interview - and no interruptions.
And thus another The World This Weekend followed the usual biased pattern that we've described so often before.