It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that this government is trying to brainwash the country into a hard Brexit. Just after Theresa May became Prime Minister we heard ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Empty words. A few days later we were going to have a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’. More empty words. Or does that mean we are going to be inextricably linked to the French Tricolour?
We were constantly being told that an ‘overwhelming majority’ voted to Leave. Can these people not do their sums? At the end of January I wrote to my MP (who originally supported Remain) to urge him to vote against the bill to trigger article 50. He replied very quickly with what I now think is his standard letter number 1. It said that an ‘overwhelming majority’ voted to leave. It is now 6 weeks since I replied asking him why he thought that it was an overwhelming majority when Nigel Farage said that 52%-48% was ‘unfinished business’. He hasn’t seen fit to reply yet, to this and to some other points in my letter.
Before this fiasco I thought that Theresa May was one of our better politicians, perhaps because she kept her head down. But now I see only an unwillingness even to consider the views of the 48% who voted remain and to compromise on this hard Brexit agenda. How dare she accuse Nicola Sturgeon of tunnel vision?
Without Gina Miller, the government was planning to go ahead and trigger article 50 just railroading Parliament without any debate. They spent a lot of money pursuing their agenda fighting this case, to no avail.
The U-turn on the Budget NICs proposal happened because somebody spotted that it went against what was in the 2015 Conservative manifesto. What has happened to the statement in this manifesto that we would seek to remain in the single market? In her Lancaster House speech Mrs May said that we are leaving the single market, this apparently only 2 hours after she told Nicola Sturgeon that our position on the single market was still unclear. No wonder Ms Sturgeon is upset and annoyed at the treatment of Scotland which voted strongly to remain. This seems to be yet another case of railroading the opposition.
When Brexiteers such as Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg appear on TV they just repeat that the people have voted and that we are leaving the EU. When Boris appears we are promised a nirvana of a booming economy with no specific details.
And where is the official opposition? Jeremy Corbyn has just been keeping a very low profile except to whip his MPs into voting to trigger article 50. It has been left to the LibDems, the SNP, the one Green MP and Ken Clarke to fight this in the House of Commons. A better opposition leader could have got a coalition together to fight the hard Brexit agenda, but Corbyn just allowed himself to be brainwashed as well.
Fuelling this brainwashing is the Daily Mail which has a huge online readership. I have spent some time reading its pro-Brexit articles and looking over the thousands of comments they generate. Most of these comments are one-liners just urging the government to get on with getting us out of the EU, or they are derogatory and sometimes racist comments about any public figure who speaks up against Brexit. There is an assumption that Brexit is ‘the will of the people’ when actually only 37% of the electorate voted for it. I have found very little discussion of the issues and there are almost no replies when I raise any issues. Most of the comments forums are described as ‘unmoderated’, but I have good reason to believe otherwise.
Whenever they are mentioned in the Mail, the LibDems are in the firing line, being dismissed as irrelevant with disparaging comments about individuals. The LibDems have won far more council by-elections than any other party since the referendum. They were close to overturning David Cameron’s 23,000 majority in the Witney by-election. They won Richmond and increased their share of the vote in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland.
The recent letter by 70+ individuals complaining about the BBC’s reporting of Brexit is just another instance of this brainwashing. The BBC goes out of its way to present both sides in any news item and to have fair and impartial representation on any panel discussion. Yet this letter generated a torrent of anger against the BBC in the Daily Mail forums, calling it far too left-wing and biased. Looking more deeply into these comments it appears that many of these people do not follow current affairs on the media, and nobody has yet been able to give me example of its so-called ‘biased’ reporting.
I, for one, am very fed up with this brainwashing. I fully accept that some people have good reasons for supporting Leave, but I am disappointed that so many predominantly Leave voters seem unable to look at the situation objectively and are just succumbing to this brainwashing. It’s time that our politicians stood up to the pro-Brexit press. And it is time for a more concerted fightback against this folly.
Postscript. As I was getting ready to post this, I discovered that the pro-EU march in London on 25 March is not being reported on the BBC web site. It got only 2 very short sentences in the 1pm news on Radio 4. This is more like censorship than brainwashing. Censorship is what happens in dictatorships and dysfunctional countries. Are we heading that way?