Remember the risks to staying in the EU’s Single Market? The BBC obviously hasn’t, argues Rory Broomfield.
It may have been my imagination but didn’t Leave win the referendum? From my (admittedly hazy) memory of June 24th, I was under the impression that roughly 17.4 million people voted for the UK to leave the European Union in the largest democratic vote for anything in the UK’s history. Despite this though, it seems that the BBC still hasn’t got the message – and has a vapid memory of what was claimed about the Single Market during the campaign.
The risks of remaining in the Single Market were made clear in the referendum campaign – not least by the erudite Dan Hannan MEP. On this website, both John Redwood and John Mills have recently sought to explain and reiterate the benefits of our future outside the regulations of the Single Market, including by mitigating the risks.
However, the BBC’s insistence on describing what they see as “hard Brexit” compared with what they describe as “soft Brexit” is nauseating, and doesn’t just naturally prefer debate about an “EEA / EFTA” option, but also misses the point.
It came to a head when Radio 4’s Today Programme interviewed Lord Lawson who, on being asked his views on “hard Brexit” said, quite rightly, that he preferred the term “clean Brexit”. Yet that, of course, hasn’t deterred the Beeb from using the phrase as if it wishes to constantly emphasise the difficulty that would – it tries to suggest – be associated with leaving the EU’s Single Market. In contrast, what Lord Lawson said during the referendum campaign – that the alternative to being in the EU is not being in the EU – seems to suggest that leaving might actually be the easier option.
The corporation during the campaign claimed it was neutral – even too worried about its impartiality, according to one presenter, but since the referendum the gloves have seemed to come off. We seem to be hearing more about the benefits of the single market and the risks of leaving rather than the other way around. This is a mistake. It also misses an opportunity.
The goal should be now to embrace a free trading future with the EU without getting drawn back into it. If the BBC were to ignore voices looking at this, it would be making a mistake and limit the terms of debate and discussion over the wider possibilities that are there for the taking outside the Single Market.
So my plea to BBC executives is, next time you are thinking about debating the EU, think to yourself how you can create a discussion and use language that embraces all the potential scenarios. Indeed, why not reframe the debate to look at how the UK can take advantage of all the trade deals that it can now make with the rest of the world?
There’s a world of opportunity out there. If only the BBC could see it.