Why the deliberate obtuseness of Remain-supporting journalists demeans the Brexit debate


November 20, 2017 by Paul Goldsmith


Whilst lying is worse, being deliberately obtuse to make a point demeans the Brexit debate.

At no point did places that voted for Leave say they wanted none of the benefits of being in the EU. They just wanted British politicians deciding what they get, not an EU bureaucrat.

Every time a Remain supporting journalist pokes fun at a place that voted leave worrying about losing immigrants that did certain jobs or losing subsidies that helped industries or missing out on the benefits of trade, they say ‘well you should have thought of that when you voted for Brexit’. But they did, they just wanted the UK to be in control of those things. I think journalists know that, but are pretending not to.

A great example is Jenni Russell in The Times (click here). She highlights fishermen in Grimsby asking for a free trade deal for fish, farmers in Cornwall needing immigrants to pick their produce, and industry in South Tyneside hoping for their regional subsidies to remain in place.

Grimsby (70:30 Leave) is one of the most deprived areas of the UK. Representatives of their seafood processing industry went to Westminster to lobby to get special exemption as a free trade port on Brexit to retain their competitive edge. Russell notes that whilst in the EU they had free trade, so they shouldn’t have voted Leave. But along with free trade came the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which meant Grimsby’s fishermen had to share British waters with other countries. After Brexit, the UK can make its own rules on fisheries, AND it can choose to grant special exemptions from protectionism should it want. The key is that it will be the UK Government in control of this, not EU bureaucrats.

Russell then points out that Cornwall (57:43 Leave) has farmers reporting fruit and veg rotting in fields as so many EU migrant labourers left after the referendum. Locals tend not to apply for the jobs, so hundreds of seasonal workers are needed. So, Cornwall wants an exemption to any post-Brexit migration curbs for low-skilled workers. They are asking for a ‘place-based approach to future migration’. Again, one could argue that the people of Cornwall should have thought of that before voting Leave. But they did. Leaving the EU means that the UK could be in a position to make its own migration rules, and if it suits Britain to create migration rules that encourage low skilled fruit and veg pickers to move to Cornwall, then all well and good. In the EU, there can be no control over these things.

Russell then turns to South Tyneside (62:38 Leave). The council is asking for the northeast’s EU subsidies (almost £190 a head, higher than every other region), to be replaced by government ones at the same level, with a “continued free flow of skilled people, and frictionless, barrier-free trade”. Russell calls this ‘cloud cuckoo land’, but I say, ‘not so fast’.

At the moment we send £350m a week to the EU, minus the rebate, and then, at the whim of an EU bureaucrat who can’t be voted out, some subsidies come back via EU regional development funds. But we still send a net around £170m a week. ALL of that £350m could be spent on helping areas of the country that need help, and it can be targeted using local expertise, guided by the UK’s own government. There is nothing wrong in all the places that received subsidies wanting to keep them, and even asking for more. Those subsidies weren’t a gift from the EU, they were, in the words of Margaret Thatcher ‘our money’. In fact, around half of ‘our money’.

There ARE of course going to be some negative implications of Brexit, and Russell spots that the elderly (64:36 Leave) are going to struggle to find careworkers (unless pay, training and working conditions are improved – which wouldn’t be such a bad thing). There is the waste management firm in the Midlands that cannot get European firms to renew five-year deals on taking unrecyclable waste to use as fuel, as nobody knows what the post-Brexit trade terms will be. True, there is short-term uncertainty, although the short-term economic meltdown predicted by Russell and the Remain campaign hasn’t happened yet.

But in the long-term, the quid pro quo for many parts of the country (possibly not those frequented by Cambridge educated BBC trained journalist Russell), the chance to take back control of sovereignty, borders and money overcame economic fears. They don’t want nothing to change from their vote from Brexit. They want better, and they want the UK Government to deliver that better, not wait for better to be possibly imposed by the EU.

Russell, who is an outstanding, award-winning journalist with more writing skills in her little finger than I have in my whole body, hopefully understands why Britain voted Leave. It would help if people like her stopped, in my view, ‘pretending’ that she doesn’t. She may want Brexit to stop, but there is no chance of that happening without a proper reckoning with why 17.4m voted for it in the first place.

2 thoughts on “Why the deliberate obtuseness of Remain-supporting journalists demeans the Brexit debate

  1. Keith Chapman says:

    The thrust of your blog is sound although I would argue that most people who voted for Brexit and ‘Control’ did not fully understand what ‘Control’ means . Let me provide a different perspective on Control .Regardless of the EU we control the NHS – so is it the fault of the EU that we have issues with the NHS? We control education but because of UK Government Policy Students now pay £9000 pa in University Fees and because of Government Policy on Free Schools the local EAs are struggling to provide quality education – a local school in Surrey ( Howard of Effingham) have ratios of 1 Teacher to 35 pupils ( and who controlled Education – oh yes Mr Gove) .We Control decisions such as the expansion of Heathrow but how long does it take to make a decision ( Mr Grayling Transport Sec – another Brexiteer). In contrast what does the EU control that is such an issue ? Immigration – well the UK can control the number of non EU immigrants entering the UK but have failed to do so ( but of course Priti Patel would have a view on that) Environmental Controls – yes the EU legislates on controls such as levels of Pollution in London – but which Tory buried the relevant data ? Oh yes another advocate of taking Control ( Boris) – so looking at these matters which we already Control we see the hand of various Politicians who like to Control – but of course its Control on their terms . In conclusion the one thing that the Brexiteers will not Control is the ability of the Youth of today to work freely across Europe – I assume the citizens of Grimsby and Sunderland were not too bothered with that matter .


    • Thanks Keith. You are right, they weren’t concerned. Partly because many of their youth wouldn’t have that chance. I recommend ‘the road to somewhere’ by David Goodhart to explain the difference in views of this sort of thing


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