Sunday 17 June 2018

Brexit dividend

Jonathan Blake

Wonder if Lord Adonis and Alastair Campbell will be retweeting Guido Fawkes today?  The latter writes, "Have to say the Number 10 press team have played a blinder this morning. First they got Marr to agree to an easy pre-record interview rather than a live. Then they got the BBC to lead all morning on the Brexit dividend rather than the fact that the money is actually coming from tax rises".

Is it fair to say that the BBC has acted as Mrs May's lapdog over this? Well, here's an example of how they've been reporting it - a BBC-on-BBC interview on Breakfast
Sally Nugent: We're joined now by our political correspondent Jonathan Blake. Jonathan, so we're hearing about this kind's being framed as money as a result of Brexit, but it's really not as straightforward as that, is it?
Jonathan Blake: No. Things in politics are rarely as simple as the politicians might like to point out. And when the Prime Minister talks about the Brexit dividend, that is something which a lot of people argue doesn't really exist. The UK will stop paying into the EU budget after we leave the EU, but that money may well be accounted for elsewhere if the government wants to keep funding sectors such as agriculture which get funding back from the EU as a result. There is also the rebate that the UK gets back every year as well from its contributions. And the government's own spending watchdog, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility, has said that tax revenues will fall overall as a result of Brexit. The government has accepted that so we'll have less money to spend in general. Nevertheless, that's the detail. It's the message that matters for the government and for the Prime Minister to come out and clearly link the money she apparently thinks the UK will save as a result of leaving the EU to NHS funding is a very powerful thing for her to be able to do. It will please a lot of Brexiteers within her own party and beyond. It's not quite as much as many NHS leaders and campaigners had wanted.  And, as you heard just there, Labour are saying that the government has left the NHS in crisis and it will cost billions to recoup the amount they will have to borrow as a result of spending cuts. And even if we take into account the so-called Brexit dividend, the Prime Minister writing in the Mail on Sunday this morning, saying that alone will not be enough and we as a country will have to contribute a bit more. To translate that Prime Ministerial-speak for you: Taxes will have to go up to pay for this. 
Even Lord Adonis and Alastair Campbell would surely struggle to pretend that that was pro-government, pro-Brexit BBC reporting!

Incidentally, more than one person hereabouts said that the BBC News website completely ignored the the PM's "Brexit dividend" claim last night. Checking Newsniffer, the first version of the BBC's main online report on the story was published at 22:40 and, indeed, didn't mention the "Brexit dividend". It was only at 23:55 that the phrase began appearing in the online report. (Thereafter it's been all over the BBC of course). Checking TV Eyes to see if the TV coverage was any quicker it turns out that Hugh Pym did use it at 22:18 on BBC One's main news bulletin. Make of that what you will!


  1. Having completely IGNORED the "Brexit dividend" in their original website report, despite the PM having made that link explicitly, the BBC are now on Radio 4 headlining the criticism by "Conservative MP" Sarah Woolaston , alleging it is all nonsense, with no other opinion allowed in their news bulletin! There is no indication given that Sarah Woolaston is a leading pro-Remain activist.

    1. I'm going to post transcripts on Radio 4's reports on this today. What I'm seeing is proving very interesting...


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.