Even George Osborne’s Brexit black hole warning wasn’t high enough

George Osborne got a lot of stick back in June, when he warned that a Brexit vote would leave a “£30 billion black hole in (the) public finances”. Indeed, his warning resulted in his entire career being shunted into a siding. Crestfallen, he went off to Vietnam to let off steam with an M60 machine gun.

Well, now it turns out that even his warning wasn’t high enough. Figures from the Office of Budget Responsibility put the Brexit impact at £58.7 billion.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Eddie Sammon 24th Nov '16 - 7:56pm

    The figures are important but the way they have been presented by the media will turn people off. I read about a “£122 billion black hole” or according to Robert Peston a “£220 billion cost” but then read that the deficit was still forecast to be nearly eliminated by 2022 so talk of a huge black hole is misleading.

    Robert Peston also seems to have been a bit unfair with presenting it as a fact and also including the Bank of England’s monetary stimulus, some of which will be expected to generate growth – it’s not just thrown down the toilet.

    With regards to brexit: I’m happy to pay a short-term cost for a long-term gain. I’m not accepting a poor deal from the EU for the sake of avoiding any short-term cost. We need to be prepared to walk from the table if we expect any decent deal at all.

    Of course, there is the option of staying in the EU, but just shouting at the public “look how expensive this is” is not going to persuade them. People will pay a high price for perceived liberty. People recognise the long-term benefits of tough negotiating.

  • I think you have hit the nail on the head there, Eddie : “perceived liberty”, as well as “perceived control” along probably with “perceived sovereignty” are some of the ideas Leave voters have lapped up. I am sure for some, they are already thinking that way, and will believe some of the wilder writings of the europhobe press, but for others they have been straight misled. Like you, I do have a concern how to bring people back on track to the best option available, I must say. A key problem is how people will react when they realise the concept of “negotiation” doesn’t really apply here, certainly not in connection with the Single Market’s 4 Freedoms. Do they finally acknowledge that if you sign up for a club of any sort, you have a set of rules to abide by? Or do they throw toys out of the pram and say that other countries and the European Parliament are “punishing” them for “voting the wrong way”?

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Nov '16 - 8:57pm

    Thanks Tim13, but I do share some of the leavers’ concerns about punishment. People talk about it as a club a lot, but we will already be losing our MEPs and other rights, so we should be entitled to some compromises in return. It may be lower EU budget costs, but it is not a one sized fits all club.

    On free movement, there is a lot of disharmony in the club. Other countries want to get rid of it too but others worry it will be the unravelling of the EU and free trade would be next to go.

  • Tim 13
    Leave voters are not children. We are not throwing our toys out of the pram or having tantrums. In fact generally speaking leave voters are parents and grandparents, with an average age older than remain voters. One might muse that some “youngsters” of Remain are metaphorically painting their bedroom blurple, listening to same sad terrible indie song on repeat, whilst reposting a YouTube clip to eachother on Facebook because the oldsters are so mean and life is just so unfair.

  • Katharine Pindar 24th Nov '16 - 9:10pm

    Eddie, what makes you sure that ‘People will pay a high price for perceived liberty’ ? Even when their standard of living remains beyond 2020 no better than in 2008? Even when they see their children faced with the kind of national debt usually only incurred after fighting a war? Even when people on benefits at their wits’end queue desperately at the food banks? All for utterly uncertain ‘long-term benefits of tough negotiating’, as if we had any hand (as Tim13 suggests) concealed that is worth playing. The outlook for the poorest in our society is sadly grim.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Nov '16 - 9:14pm

    Katherine, I’m pretty sure because most voters who were allowed to vote ignored the economic warnings and many continue to do so.

    You say “as if we had any hand worth playing” but people won’t elect the Liberal Democrats to represent Britain if the party can’t think of a single negotiating hand in our grasp, as if we should never ever question those more powerful than us because “they have the whip hand”. That’s where liberalism meets illiberalism.

  • Facts have started to appear and some leavers don’t like them. As Cpl Jones said “They don’t like it up them”. I do have some sympathy, because the economic situation was starting to look grim without Brexit, but after all a large proportion of them blamed every fault on the EU they can hardly complain if all the coming difficulties are blamed on Brexit; what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander too.

  • Katherine.
    Most people are not actually that badly off and where they are it’s not like being in the EU was improving anything very much. It certainly hasn’t in Spain, Greece, or the suburbs of Paris or any of the countries with 20 plus percent unemployment. It’s also not as if Osborn on a remain vote would have ended austerity. I’m actually pretty certain he would have used a win as an excuse to have another “emergency budget” to “calm the markets” and ensure that Britain was on the “right path” and that it would have involved further cuts to benefits and raising the threshold of inheritance tax to “encourage saving”. He was a one trick pony. Emergency budgets was his one trick. If nothing else the country is well shot of him.

  • Dear Paul, I believe it will be worse: surely, the Chancellor and the OBR had been under enormous pressure from Tory Brexiteers and the PM to produce the best conceivable numbers. The OBR projects lower but not unhealthy growth in 2017, the year the exit negotiations commence (and France and Germany vote), growth already picking up in 2018, when negotiations will be ongoing, and a return to pre-referendum growth in 2019, the year when life outside the single market and the negotiation of new trade deals only start. No new trade deals can be expected before 2020/21. This forecast is clearly a best case as uncertainty will continue much longer than the OBR’s estimates imply. Reality could be notably worse: so far the Government has demonstrated no command of the process whatsoever; Sterling has not necessarily bottomed out. Consequently debt levels, inflation, and interest rates could adversely deviate from the OBR forecast and cause an even more potraced depression of household spending power.

  • Frankie

    I’ve yet to hear one leaver complain. Most don’t like the debt levels, but seem content that even after taking a brexit hit, the UK’s debt to GDP levels will still be far lower than countries like the USA, Japan, Canada, France, Spain and Italy.

    Katharine Pindar

    “Even when they see their children faced with the kind of national debt usually only incurred after fighting a war? Even when people on benefits at their wits’end queue desperately at the food banks?”

    Most of the above was the result of the financial crisis and the Tory/Lib Dem coalition policies. It has very little to do with brexit.

  • Hi Katharine
    “Eddie, what makes you sure that ‘People will pay a high price for perceived liberty’ ? Even when their standard of living remains beyond 2020 no better than in 2008?”

    The issue here I fear is that the lower paid half of working Britain has seen no rise in living standards since the early 2000’s and it’s now 2016!

    So many don’t fear more austerity, especially given what they perceive as the Holy Grail of Sovereignty as the potential reward.

    This is further complicated by the fact that many of them see the main cause of their wage stagnation coming from cheap migrant labour from the EU.

    And so we come full circle – again unfortunately

  • Ethicsgradient 25th Nov '16 - 12:16am

    @ Mike S

    I think your post is a very good reading of how that particular section of the leave vote will see the autumn statement.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Nov '16 - 12:18am

    Tim Farron did well on Question Time on BBC1 Describing himself as ” only working class party leader” he gave a characterisation of what British people are like, whether they voted Remain or Leave, getting strong applause from the studio audience. Canvassers should follow his line.

  • Katharine Pindar 25th Nov '16 - 12:31am

    Eddie, we just have to be realistic about the fact that 27 EU nations have no reason to be kind to us in the negotiations – quite the contrary, in fact, since they fear others exiting. Glenn, quite agree we are well shot of Osborne, but we have had a flourishing trade with the EU now threatened by possible tariffs, and economic help to our poorest areas. And ‘Most people are not that badly off’ goes with Mike’s (hi, Mike!) ‘many don’t fear austerity’ as unproven and to me unlikely statements. Malc, agree that the dire financial state of the country precedes Brexit, but the point is, Brexit as Paul pointed out and Arnold confirms, is expected to make it much worse.
    Meanwhile, Tim Farron has been quite brilliant on Question Time and very well received, heartening at least us Lib Dems!

  • jedibeeftrix 25th Nov '16 - 12:39am

    Ahem, Paul: £30b/y [vs] £58b/5y.

  • @ Eddie Sammon
    “I’m happy to pay a short-term cost for a long-term gain.”

    I think this represents the view of many Leave voters. The problem is how did the Leave campaign manage to paint a picture of the UK being better off out of the EU than in? How could the lie that the EU has holding us back take hold? Was there ever a time since 1979 when it would have been possible to counter this drip, drip effect? Would it have ever been possible to pass a law ensuring that newspaper coverage of the EU was fair and balanced (and if not journalists would face huge fines and maybe prison)?

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Nov '16 - 2:15am

    There are rational arguments on both sides, but my gut prefers the rational argument that says it’s not in our interests to cave into threats of economic destruction.

    Changing gut instincts is harder, but it can be done, perhaps if there were fewer threats. Not many people want to be threatened into belonging to a club.

  • Eddie; I agree, stop the threats, especially from those that claim to be friends. I don’t mean stop being a critical friend, but some of the comments from the rest of the E.U. have almost been along the lines of we will make sure you suffer rather than we don’t think this is a good idea. I don’t think that approach is going to work, if they actually do want us to stay…of which I have my doubts.

  • Arnold I may be wrong, but, I can’t help thinking that if you and some of those who support you view point, aren’t just warning of what you believe will happen if Brexit goes ahead, you actually want those things to happen. I remember labour almost being overtly furious when their predictions of long term and even triple dip recession under the coalition government didn’t happen. It does feel similar to me in that some remainers not only believe any Brexit will fail, they actually want that to happen….Which to me is a bit weird. I want to leave but if we don’t, despite my own views, I would want us to succeed in the E.U.

  • I’m one of those people whose terms and conditions and salary levels are directly affected by FMOL. I get the impression most lib dems have their heads in the ideological clouds. They want the British working class of all colours to shoulder the responsibility of a crumbling ideological dream.

    FMOL is outrageously illiberal, unfair. We are mopping up the unemployment in PIGS countries at the detriment of our own people.

    This country is not the EU – it’s the UK. Most perceive the LIb Dems as wanting this to be part of a Euro superstate. That only works if all countries in the club have similar economic and work conditions.

  • Mick Taylor 25th Nov '16 - 6:18am

    Eddie. There is no hand to negotiate, because ALL the decisions about the UK relationship post brexit lie with the remaining 27 members of the EU. Read article 50. The UK won’t even be in the room when the 27 decide what to offer us. Why do you persist in believing that there will be negotiations? Just because our beloved PM says so, doesn’t make it so. If the UK had something to offer the EU then the 27 might possibly decide to offer us a half good deal, but there isn’t. Our Exports the EU can live without, because we depend much more on their market than they do on ours. Let’s face it, our half hearted membership of the EU over 40 plus years is something many in the EU can well do without.

    Editor: This comment has been modified to remove offensive language

  • “People talk about it as a club a lot, but we will already be losing our MEPs and other rights, so we should be entitled to some compromises in return.”

    It does not work that way. Like May said (and the EU officials before her), the correct point to view the future relation with the EU is from the standpoint of a third country, one that is extremely close to the EU but fundamentally incompatible with membership of it. As a third country, it seeks to improve its commercial relations through a trade deal. Canada, Norway and Switzerland have similar deals with the EU that the UK helped create, and should therefor be considered fundamentally fair.

  • “It does feel similar to me in that some remainers not only believe any Brexit will fail, they actually want that to happen” – Tynan

    Not really, but it is easy to mix things up. Many remain voters want the economic and political conditions to worsen fast, so article 50 will not be triggered. This is partially just tactical, but it’s guided by a belief that the experts are right and that the costs of the divorce will be high, and the gains at best philosophical. It’s like hoping that someone’s cancer gets detected early. Not because you want them to have cancer, but because treatment options are better.

  • Malc you only have to see their reaction to the OBR report to see the leavers in full whine mode. It will get worse, they will go into full deflect mode, at which point the Lib Dems have two choices, be measured restrained or bring out the flame throwers and roast them. If the Coalition has taught people nothing it should have taught them being nice wins you nothing, so roll out the flame thrower.

  • Britain is the second largest direct financial contributor to the EU project, a useful market for goods and very important to its defence. It’s not like Iceland leaving or even Norway not joining. Talk about who has the whip hand and speculation about winners or losers is being fuelled by uncertainty. Once article 50 is triggered positions will become more realistic.
    I don’t think there will be negotiations in a simple way. I think there will be face/job saving offers/efforts from both sides as things develop in a more serious way.

  • Mick Taylor

    “The UK won’t even be in the room when the 27 decide what to offer us. Why do you persist in believing that there will be negotiations?”

    Then there’s nothing we can do and we walk away and leave them to it. However, if we had another referendum in that situation I think leave would win by a country mile.

  • Carl Gardener
    Eddie is actually a Remain voter.
    It is nothing like cancelling a newspaper, but if it was the position of some Remainers is akin to insisting you can’t cancel the subscription because the newsagent will be so angry he/she won’t let you buy a Mars Bar and as a result you will starve to death.

  • I note ‘leavers’ are still repeating the meaningless ‘control’,’ sovereignty’, slogans…
    We now have some blaming the EU for planning to ‘give us a hard time’ whilst others ‘explain’ that they won’t; because they need us so much…

    My mother (Irish) always referred to ‘utter confusion’ as being, “Like Donnybrook Fair’…

    “To Donnybrook steer, all you sons of Parnassus
    Poor painters, poor poets, poor newsmen, poor knaves
    To see what the fun is that all fun surpasses
    The sorrow and sadness of green (Englands’s) slaves”

  • John Peters 25th Nov '16 - 9:52am

    The Lib Dem Remain position is modeled on Monty Python’s Black Night. They have lost one arm and will lose the other when Article 50 is triggered. In a couple of years they will be hopping mad.

  • Of cause John, that is why you and the other gallant Brexiteers are trying to shut down the debate. I think more and more of you know its going to go badly, so you want to close down debate; the last think you want is anyone pointing out the mess we are in. You’ll all be playing the “We are were we are card”. Won’t work though your going to become the new EU, all our problems will because of you. Not fair is it, but then life’s not fair.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Nov '16 - 10:56am

    Taylor 25th Nov ’16 – 6:18am Language please.
    The future is by definition uncertain.
    In the present and recent past we know that the UK is losing now from the 27 June vote because of the fall in the value of the pound sterling.
    The other 27 have told us hey are also losing now.
    Please do not assume that the other 27 will cohere. Sector by sector the lobbyists are queuing up to whisper in the ear of the UK’s Prime Minister and other Prime Ministers and Presidents.
    We have heard about cars and banking, but consider fish. Spain has a lot to lose but Luxembourg will be scarcely affected.
    Or consider what the Swedish Finance Minister said recently about a steep fall in Swedish exports to the UK, happening now and in recent weeks. She speaks for the Nordic Union.

  • Whistling in the wind Mr Underhill like so many others. The only way to get a good deal from the EU into stay in. If the deal is as bad as I think it will be, then a second referendum is vital to give the people the choice of being rolled over or staying put.

  • Paul Murray 25th Nov '16 - 1:01pm

    ” Figures from the Office of Budget Responsibility put the Brexit impact at £58.7 billion.

    Robert Chote from the OBR told the FT yesterday that “forecasts are always wrong” so printing a figure like £58.7 bn is nonsense. You might as well specify it down to the penny.

    For example in 2010 the OBR produced their estimate for borrowing over the next 6 years. You can find it in table C7 on page 90 here : http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/docs/dlm_uploads/junebudget_annexc.pdf

    Their forecast was for total borrowing of £471bn over the 6 year period. In reality the figure was £652bn. (See table 2 at researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN05745/SN05745.pdf).

    I don’t blame the OBR, forecasting is little different from reading the entrails of chickens. But if you accept their figures for borrowing, then presumably you also accept their figures for GDP growth. They estimate 1.4% which is higher than the IMF’s 1.2% growth estimate for Germany.

    So – using the OBR figures – the economic apocalypse that remainers keep predicting turns out to be growth that is slightly better than in Germany?

  • John Littler 25th Nov '16 - 1:15pm

    The three recent articles linked below make grim reading on Trump and populist politics and the environment, with war looking likely to emerge out of nationalism.

    Everyone needs to realise the serious nature of what we are dealing with.




  • Eddie Sammon 25th Nov '16 - 2:43pm

    First of all Mick Taylor swore at me at the end of his comment which I think is against the rules of the site.

    Secondly by “compromises” in return I think if we lose some privileges of EU membership then at the least we should pay lower fees. It’s not fear to cancel membership of something and still pay the same price for it.

    It’s very off putting to be accused of “talking (insert swear word” and being “totally bizarre” etc. for saying so.

  • William Ross 25th Nov '16 - 3:14pm

    Dear All
    We must remember that the OBR figure is just an estimate. It proves absolutely nothing. We are still waiting for the self caused recession, the 20% collapse in London property prices, the punishment budget and so on. Don`t get your hopes up.

    On an Article 50 deal the 27 in the room are welcome to give us nothing if they wish. We do not need any deal at all.

  • Matt (Bristol) 25th Nov '16 - 4:07pm

    Eddie, I agree that Mick was unnecessarily rude to you.

    I do think, however, that there is still a lot of collective denial about what the details of brexit will involve.

    I think Mick is right that the terms of negotiations with the EU will be limited and not as wide-ranging as Boris and May expect. We do not have as much leverage as we think, and have lost a lot of trust in the last 2 years. However, there will be probably be some room for negotiation on details, so Mick may overstate his case.

    You have made the point that many people feel ‘bullied’ by the EU and that May is sticking up for Britain – I agree this is how people feel (and comments from some EU politicians – and how this has been reported – have not been helpful). But I think many of her actions will prove counterproductive.

    I think the reality is that both staying in or going on out (in its multiple forms) are now worse options than the status quo ante referendum, and our ability to exert control over the future development of all the options is going to less than we think, a lonelier player in a big and increasingly confusing world.

    We have not had ‘great power’ status for some time. We retained a vestige of it as a) a trusted EU partner and b) the USA’s bag-carrier and intermediary. This year, both those bargaining chips crumbled to nothing: a) If we retain EU membership in any democratically valid way, we will not retain trust; b) we cannot get close enough to Trump to get more than the crumbs off his table and as he has no coherent international strategy, we will never be sure of whether he really needs us. Those who called Blair America’s poodle will have seen nothing yet. Who else will we go to? India? China? Those who want immigration control and increased employment will be sorely disappointed, if so.

    Patriotism is all very well, but when it is bragging about a past status that in fact successive politicians have widdled and gambled away, it is just fantasy.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Nov '16 - 4:14pm

    Thanks Matt (Bristol) for being polite. I mentioned rationality because I think there are rational arguments on both sides, but a lot of it comes down to feelings which are harder to change, I think.

    For those that think I’m being “totally bizarre” or surprised I could think what I do, they should maybe have a conversation with me rather than assume I’ve lost the plot.

  • John Peters 25th Nov '16 - 4:25pm

    “Patriotism is all very well, but when it is bragging about a past status that in fact successive politicians have widdled and gambled away, it is just fantasy.”

    I may be wrong but the impression I get is that the only people wittering on about a past status are Remainers. Remainers do seem to have a golden vision of the past which I do not share.

  • Matt (Bristol) 25th Nov '16 - 5:00pm

    Eddie – I still really don’t agree with your core point that the EU ‘needs’ to give us something back in return for us ‘losing’ our powers and privileges in Europe.

    But those like me who are instinctive internationalists and tend to suspect and dislike unilateral chest-beating by UK leaders, need to hold open a line of communication to patriotic remainers like yourself who find it hard to criticise the government’s actions when it claims to be standing up for Britain’s interests.

    The post-referendum Remain coalition must not completely lose its pragmatic, more Tory-leaning wing, or it will lose the overall argument.

    Mick had a good point, but him effectively telling you that you were an idiot was not helpful.

    John Peters – I had a good answer to you but it was tooooo long. I will return later.

  • @katherine Pindar

    You are correct to say the EU 27 won’t be kind to us to prevent others leaving. But as a leave voter, this just convinces me that leaving was that right thing to do. We should not stay in a relationship simply because something might hurt us if we leave.

    We should not stay in a political union because of the threat of punishment for deciding it’s no longer for us. And if the EU needs to use threats to hold it together it’s finished anyway.

    I predict another debt crisis in Italy with no help and solidarity from the EU…

  • ethicsgradient 26th Nov '16 - 4:26am

    i am not looking to move away from the main topic of discussion but I cannot let this side point go unchallenged:

    Michael BG on 25th Nov ’16 – 12:43am posted the following

    ” Was there ever a time since 1979 when it would have been possible to counter this drip, drip effect? Would it have ever been possible to pass a law ensuring that newspaper coverage of the EU was fair and balanced (and if not journalists would face huge fines and maybe prison)?”

    I am frankly amazing on a liberal website a person who is advocating full newspaper censorship with journalists being imprisoned and given huge fines has not been challenged already?

    I cannot think of anything more illiberal that to suggest curbing press freedom and free speech. And this is a website where liberal activist opinion can be heard? I’m pretty stunned.

  • jedibeeftrix 26th Nov '16 - 9:27am

    @ Mick – “If the UK had something to offer the EU then the 27 might possibly decide to offer us a half good deal, but there isn’t.”

    Quite aside from the trade deficit that you so quickly discount:

    1. EU budget – Our net contribution is circa £10b, who is going to pick up the tab?
    2. Specifically – An armoured battlegroup in the baltic states, and Typhoons in Romania.
    3. Generally – The credible deterrence of a nation equipped and willing to enact article 5.
    4. Intelligence – Continued access to the output of the security services is treasured.
    5. Access to finance – The continent desperately needs investment, but an ossified bank system.
    6. Free trade lifts all boats – GDP growth in Germany is less than post-referendum Britain.
    6. Offer anything less than Canada+ – And see how you like it when we respond with Singapore+!
    7. Oh, and something liberals here seem to have forgotten – Good relations between nations are worth having…

    The incentives to a good result are compelling, and spite – that we reject a political project we do not share – should not be a motivation that lib-dem’s support with their silence.

  • @Jedibeeftrix – there is also the matter of the European Investment Bank. The UK has a total capital obligation of €39bn, of which €3.4bn is paid up. So after Brexit the EIB will owe the UK €3.4bn and the remaining members will either have to stump up €39bn to cover the black hole created by Brexit or reduce the lending capacity of the EIB. I’m sure “other options” will be explored during negotiations.

  • You could literally put on a blindfold and throw darts and come up with a forecast that is as likely to be true as the OBR’s. When will people learn that economists are hopeless at making predictions? And I say this as an economics graduate.

    In five years time, but not before, we’ll be able to see how accurate Osborne’s guesswork turned out to be.

  • jedibeeftrix 26th Nov ’16 – 9:27am……….Good relations between nations are worth having…

    Yes..However, not having a Foreign Secretary whose sole aim seems to be alienating all and sundry might help…

  • @ ethicgradient

    Thank you for responding to my comment. It is my understanding that the theory of a free press is along the lines that it doesn’t matter if lies are told because the majority of the press will tell the truth and therefore the public will know what is true. However it is clear that the coverage of the EU for years has been biased and misleading and not balanced. Truth has not won the day with a free press, misrepresentation has. The press is powerful and liberalism is about controlling the powerful, so it is not illiberal to have a law that the press must not misrepresent the truth as news. As with any law there have to be penalties and the penalties have to be of an order to convince most people to work within the law. Fining newspapers, editors and journalists for publishing and writing untrue “news” makes perfect sense and in some cases it might be correct to send some journalist to prison (I would expect only in exceptional circumstances of persistent repeated offences). [Haven’t we sent journalists to prison over phone hacking?]

    This is not censorship because it would be for a court to determine if this hypothetical law had been broken.

    @ Jedibeeftrix and Paul Murray

    There are a few things which do give us a negotiating position with the EU. A Canada plus deal should be possible. Does anyone know how Canada’s deal differs from being a member of the single market?

  • jedibeeftrix 27th Nov '16 - 12:19pm

    “There are a few things which do give us a negotiating position with the EU. A Canada plus deal should be possible. Does anyone know how Canada’s deal differs from being a member of the single market?”

    Hi Michael,

    This seems like a reasonable starting point:



  • ethicsgradient 27th Nov '16 - 9:38pm

    @Michael BG,

    So who decides what is ‘true’ or not ‘true’? There is the fundamental problem with your thesis. This is what dictators do. dictators don’t start off meaning to be totalitarian, they think “if only people could see or understand? I’ll just have to make them see”… you are saying the same thing … ” I will have to have editor and journalists fined or imprisoned. don’t they see that they are being biased”… And of course dictators/totalitarian regimes also always have Judges to make sure the journalist crimes and held in a fair court of law too.

    If something is published that is not true. Then we do have the right already to bring a case of slander or misrepresentation. This though is very, very different to a higher authority deciding what view can or cannot be deemed to be aired. That is censorship and that is what you are suggesting.

    I am sorry but you are advocating both censorship and totalitarian of any opposing view point.

    With Phone hacking, journalists were jailed not for what the wrote or published/published/view point. They were jailed for breaking privacy and data laws. I.e. it is illegal to break into someones phone. Not to publish a kiss&tell story.

    The British press is not all anti-EU. EU has strong advocates in the Guardian, the Independent and the mirror and the FT. The Time is pragmatic about the EU. While the Telegraph, Sun, Mail and Express are critical of the EU

    Have you ever thought that The balance of the press on the EU is actually reflective of how the country has always viewed the EU? The EU has never been loved in the UK, it was seen through pragmatic trade terms and much annoyance is seen through the EU from corruption, working and drive for political union. So maybe the press is reflective of this and because you hold strong pro-EU views it is only your own perception that the press is bias against the EU rather than it being so.

    Media and the general population work in a symbiotic relationship. If a media outlets view is massively at odds with the general population then it doesn’t sell. conversely, the media and catch a wave of public feeling and shape it (but not go against it).

  • @ Jedibeeftrix

    Thank you for the first link, which points out the problem areas.

    @ ethicsgradient

    I have no experience of living in a dictatorship, but I do live in a society where the government snoops on the general public more than they did in the past.

    I am not saying that the press should print the “facts” of the government. In fact I would like to see a law to ban from politics politicians who misrepresent the truth (my thinking on this would be to give the power to the Electoral Commission and only the courts when the defendant requests it).

    We live in a liberal democracy and two of its main tenets are the rule of law and that the judiciary is independent.

    A starting position would be the libel laws (slander is verbal) but these only apply to individuals and not facts. However I would reverse the burden of proof, the journalist would have to prove that what they wrote was true and it would be up to a jury to decide if what the journalist wrote was true. Therefore anyone could take the journalist and newspaper to court for publishing untruths. However we do not use this method for most of our laws but get the police to investigate and the CPS to then decide if the case should be pursued in the courts. Therefore this method should be included but the burden of proof would be on the crown not the defendants. There is no way that anyone could rationally think this was censorship.

    I do not hold strong pro-EU views, I think the EU needs urgent reform, but on balance I think we benefit from being in the EU. The press does not reflect the views of the British public, the British public view reflects the way the EU is presented in the press. In 1975 two-third of UK people supported our membership, I suppose that in 1979 even Margaret Thatcher supported our membership. By the summer of 1993 the press were firmly against the EU (if I had been representing the UK I wouldn’t have agreed lots of the things in the Maastricht treaty) and by the summer of this year there was a small majority for leaving the EU.

    If you are told an untruth enough times you will begin to believe it, especially if you never hear it being refuted.

    If you think that the anti-EU newspapers tell the truth about the EU why do you think it would be bad thing for this “truth” to have to be true?

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Nov '16 - 12:01am

    @ El Sid, ‘We should not stay in a relationship simply because something might hurt us if we leave.’ True for personal relationships, but can’t I think be applied to inter-state relationships. In such a case we have to think of who will be hurt, which will surely be the poorest people in Britain, and try to protect them. However, Jedibee gives us an interesting list, supplemented by other people, of what the 27 have to gain from us, which I suppose will be taken into account. The same contributor tells us, usefully, about the EU-Canada deal. So much to be negotiated in any trade deal, so many extra civil servants to be employed – what a waste of public resources it threatens to be!

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