Ever since Theresa May’s ‘off the books’ meeting with Rupert Murdoch last September, things have been going pretty well for the media mogul.
Taking time out of a busy schedule, the UK Prime Minister managed to squeeze in the meeting during a one-night trip to New York. At the time, droves of people expressed their outrage on social media. Hugh Grant said he felt “a soft moan of despair for [his] country”. Meanwhile, others noted that the owner of The Sun, The Times, The Wall Street Journal and many other influential outlets has backed every winning Prime Minister since 1979.
‘We couldn’t have written it any better’
More recently, there have been signs that people were right to be worried about the meeting. Murdoch’s flagship paper has been very happy with how May’s Brexit has developed. A Sun editorial on 18 January went beyond praise over the Prime Minister’s Brexit speech:
The Brexit vision Theresa May unveiled is so close to ours we couldn’t have written it any better.
Today's Sun editorial: "The Brexit vision… is so close to ours, we couldn't have written it any better."
What a coincidence pic.twitter.com/SnOom2FmTf
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— The Sun Apologies (@SunApology) January 18, 2017
The media baron has long been seen as a supporter of the ‘hard’ Brexit announced by May in her speech. When asked by journalist Anthony Hilton why he was against the EU, Murdoch once said (reportedly):
When I go into Downing Street, they do what I say; when I go to Brussels, they take no notice.
Correspondingly, The Sun took a passionate anti-EU stance throughout the referendum.
Shortly after the vote, Murdoch described Britain’s vote to leave the EU as “wonderful”. He also praised Donald Trump and seemed eager for a US-UK trade deal post-Brexit. Such a trade deal could be even worse for public standards than the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It could open up our NHS to US private healthcare firms. But this could be good for Murdoch, who reportedly invested £100m in a US private healthcare start-up between 2014-2015.
The media mogul is now set to lose the investment after the company was found to be putting patient’s lives at risk. But it shows private healthcare is one example of how Murdoch could benefit from ‘bargain basement Britain’ post-Brexit.
May snubs the BBC, opts for Sky News
Another way Murdoch looks set to cash in on Brexit is through his acquisition of Sky News, which he originally founded in 1989. Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is buying back the 61% of Sky News it does not already own. But now the deal will cost £2bn (15%) less because of the drop in the pound post-Brexit.
The Prime Minister broke with tradition to cosy up to Sky News at the beginning of 2017. Sky News was the first channel to interview the Prime Minister this year in a snub to the BBC. The annual so-called “curtain opener” interview had been carried out by the BBC for years.
May pens an exclusive in The Sun
And after her flagship Brexit speech, May penned an exclusive in The Sun.
May’s column consisted mainly of feelgood platitudes. Towards the end, she explicitly asked for Murdoch’s readers to back her:
But making this a reality will depend on another essential ingredient of our success as a nation. The strength and support of 65 million people willing us to make it happen.
So as Sun readers I urge you to support this plan and to help us bring our country back together.
This is a time to stop fighting the battles of the past and look to the future.
Since the secretive meeting, Murdoch’s outlets have enjoyed prestigious multiple exclusives with the Prime Minister. Brexit has gone down exactly how the media mogul wants.
It appears in a post-Brexit world, the sun still never sets on the British Empire. Except now, ‘the sun’ is a billionaire’s propaganda tool and the empire only exists in the minds of nostalgic Britons. A fantasy of those unaware of how grotesque colonialism really was.
Murdoch’s cosy relationship with Number 10 must end. It is an insult to our democracy.
– Check out the Media Reform Coalition.
– Write to your MP, asking their view on media monopolies.
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