The front pages of the UK’s right-wing outlets have sent a disgraceful message to MPs debating hard Brexit. The Supreme Court forced the debate after Theresa May attempted to bypass constitutional parliamentary sovereignty to impose her version of Brexit.
On 1 February, the clearest message came from the UKIP-supporting press. As we can see, The Express claims there is a “sneaky plot” from EU-supporting MPs to “block” Brexit:
Meanwhile, The Sun and The Daily Mail are hammering the anti-immigration message home during the debate on hard Brexit:
The purpose of these front pages is to keep readers riled up over the EU. This is a clear threat to MPs: if you don’t vote for hard Brexit, we will up the ante even further.
The Express front page does not reflect reality. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has imposed a three-line-whip, the highest level of party discipline, on Labour MPs to vote for the Article 50 bill. Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer backed his decision, saying:
I wish the result had gone the other way. I campaigned passionately for that. But as democrats our party has to accept that result and it follows that the prime minister should not be blocked from starting the Article 50 negotiations.
On the other side of the Commons, rebel Conservative MPs have backed away from even supporting amendments to the bill by Labour or other opposition parties. Even if dozens of Labour MPs vote against the bill, the support of nearly all the Conservatives and much of Labour means the bill is likely to pass overwhelmingly.
The front pages from The Sun and The Mail do not reflect reality either. These billionaire-owned outlets are channelling public anger over the NHS crisis into anger at the EU and immigrants.
A genuine front page would highlight that the Conservative government has manufactured this crisis through underfunding. The data clearly shows this. Only one out of 13 trusts are meeting ambulance response targets. In 2016, one million critically injured people weren’t seen within the targeted eight minutes. So don’t get hit by a bus under May’s government!
May and the Conservatives like to blame people getting older and winter, as if these things don’t happen every year. What’s really changed is the huge lack of funding, according to the Department of Health (DoH)’s own figures:
The government is deliberately defunding the NHS to bring in private capital. But the right-wing press want you blaming the EU and immigration.
The press want to suggest immigration is the problem despite immigration literally holding up the NHS. Statistics produced by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that 26% of NHS doctors are foreign nationals, as of 2014.
MPs must respect the decision to leave the EU. The 17-million-strong vote is higher than any vote for a political party in living memory. But the terms of Brexit were not voted on. A YouGov poll showed that only 39% of the country and 74% of Leave voters back hard Brexit.
We cannot allow the billionaire press to dictate discourse in Britain. The lack of a mandate for hard Brexit must be kept in mind as the debate continues.
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