Osborne’s in denial

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Osborne’s in denial

Rory Broomfield says that since last year’s EU Referendum, there has been good news in abundance, but try telling that to George Osborne and co. 

Things happen in life that we might not like. We have to deal with them and move on. However, there are some events in life that people feel unable to let go. It seems that, to much of the press, Brexit is that issue.

Yesterday the ONS announced that UK unemployment has dropped to 1.49 million – its lowest level since 1975, the year of the referendum to remain in the European Economic Community. Did we see a flow of headlines showing the good news from our friends at The Guardian, etc? No. It wasn’t even mentioned on The Independent’s website.

Yet, it wasn’t just that some newspapers wished to ignore the good news. Others wished to play up negatives. This included the London Evening Standard, the newspaper edited by the former Chancellor and proponent of ‘Project Fear’, George Osborne.

Instead of promoting the positives of more economic opportunities for people since the EU Referendum, George Osborne’s editorial and newspaper could only dwell on the negative. So, despite the national picture showing a decrease in unemployment – and increasing employment – and a regional scene showing that there is an unemployment rate of just 1.2 per cent in London, the Evening Standard ran with a headline of “‘Brexit Squeeze’ tightens as family budgets and wage rises lag behind inflation”.

It is interesting that this line is taken in a newspaper edited by George Osborne as, illustrated by figure one in these ONS figures, real wages fell overall during his time as Chancellor (May 2010-July 2016) and were above the level that he inherited when appointed Chancellor for only six months out of the 70+ he served in the Treasury. This meant that over 90 per cent of the time from May 2010 to July 2016, real wages were below pre-Osborne levels.

This effort to distort, ignore or bury good news is so that these individuals, newspapers and broadcasters can continue their relentless fight to defy the decision made last year in the EU referendum.

It is not just the London Evening Standard, however. Others such as the BBC have been criticised recently by Members of Parliament for their coverage of the Brexit issue post-Referendum. Broadcasters, newspapers and magazines such as the BBC, Guardian, Independent, Economist, FT and Evening Standard have all displayed contempt for Brexit and the positives that have been seen since the referendum. There is also a low-rent magazine called The New European, of which Alistair Campbell is Editor-at-Large, which also fits into this category.

However, it’s particularly interesting how George Osborne seems so wedded to his mantra of ‘Project Fear’. Since Theresa May became Prime Minister, and he lost his job as Chancellor, the man has become embittered towards the country’s economic prosperity. By ignoring the positive news over yesterday’s figures, the Standard is doing his readership a disservice. Osborne really needs to get a grasp of reality.

Since Brexit the economy has continued to grow, unemployment has decreased and foreign direct investment is continuing to come into the UK. That, alongside so many other positives, has been lost on much of the media. These organisations may, in time, regret their approach. People have a choice over what media they consume in the UK and they may just choose to consume their news via an alternative news outlet. The message to Osborne and co is simple. I hope they change their approach.

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  • Rory Broomfield
    Rory Broomfield
    Rory Broomfield is Director of The Freedom Association and the Better Off Out campaign. He is an authority on the EU and has written a number of books including his latest, co-authored with Iain Murray, Cutting the Gordian Knot: A Roadmap for British Exit from the European Union. He has previously worked in the City of London and in Westminster for a number of Members of Parliament, including the current Prime Minister, Theresa May; the current Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady; and Sir Richard Shepherd.
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