EU flag

The EU referendum may be over but the anti-European tabloids are still pushing on with their disinformation campaign about the EU.

On Tuesday, the Daily Express – the UKIP-supporting paper that has long been the biggest cheerleader of EU withdrawal – published a story called EUROPEAN SUPERSTATE TO BE UNVEILED: EU NATIONS ‘TO BE MORPHED INTO ONE’ POST-BREXIT.

The article claims that member states are to be given an ‘ultimatum’ to accept ‘radical proposals’ that include the transfer of national armies, criminal law, taxation and banking to Brussels.

The article also claims that ‘member states would also lose what few controls they have left over their own borders’.

The same story was also reported in The Sun.

But the report that this story refers to – ‘A strong Europe in a world of uncertainties’ by Jean-Marc Ayrault and Frank-Walter Steinmeier – mentions nothing about transferring any of these individual powers to Brussels at all, let alone immediately post-Brexit.

The 9-page report – available to read in full here – is a response to Brexit and discusses how to better integrate security, asylum policy and the economy at EU level while meeting the expectations of EU citizens in a climate of wavering support and passion for European integration.

Rather than conducting power-grabs and forcing ultimatums, the report discusses balancing working together at a European level with allowing nation-states the freedom to determine their own policies where possible.

‘Our task is twofold’, write the authors. ‘We have to strictly focus our joint efforts on those challenges that can only be addressed by common European answers, while leaving others to national or regional decision-making and variation. And we must deliver better on those issues we have chosen to focus on.’

The report mainly focuses on information-sharing of security and intelligence services, how to deal with the ongoing migration crisis and working towards economic stability in the Eurozone.

Unfortunately, as with most of these tabloid articles based on reports, no link to the original document is provided by either paper so they are pretty much free to distort the information as much as they like without readers being able to easily check accuracy.

What both papers also neglect to mention is that the report is not an EU policy document or bill. It is simply a paper written by national politicians for consideration by EU politicians. Ayrault is the French foreign minister and Steinmeier is the German foreign minister. So even if it was full of suggestions to strip away the powers of national governments, nobody is about to suddenly push it through the European parliament. To write about it as if it is a policy that’s already been determined is completely untrue.

But then if this referendum has proved anything, it’s that these papers have little regard for truthful reporting or anything approaching accuracy.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.




The Daily Express is, surprise surprise, laying into the EU yet again. About 50% of its content is currently about those ‘unelected Brussels bureaucrats’ riding roughshod over British laws, wasting hard-working British taxpayers’ money and dismantling our borders.

Its latest moan is about an art collection in EU offices. In an article titled ‘EU STOCKPILES £13M OF ART (BOUGHT BY YOU)’, the paper publishes ‘research’ by the Vote Leave campaign that claims to reveal over 600 artworks on display in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg, including ‘around 400 pieces purchased with European taxpayers’ money’.

The paper goes on to quote Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott as calling the collection ‘a shrine to the European project’.

Now, opinions on whether art collections on public display in government buildings are a waste of taxpayers’ money will probably vary. Some may view it as acceptable expenditure, others may see it as unnecessarily extravagant.

But one thing that’s for sure is that it is hardly unique to the EU. Most national political buildings will have a similar collection on display.

Take the collection held by the British government, for example. Research last year by the Taxpayers’ Alliance revealed that central government and local councils own at least £3.5 billion worth of art.

This is a staggering 269 times more valuable than the EU collection.

But more staggering than this is the research discovered that just 3% of this collection is available for public view.

So if the Daily Express is really so concerned with taxpayers’ money being wasted, surely a better place to start would be this expensive British art collection that is hidden away from public view, rather than complaining about a European stash that has cost the British taxpayer less than £500,000?

Honestly, anyone would think that this newspaper has an agenda to push or something.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.


jewish immigrants

(Image: Jewish immigrants in East London in the late 19th century)

Anyone who has picked up a copy of The Daily Mail or The Daily Express will probably be familiar with the modern media portrayal of immigrants coming here in their thousands to take our jobs, homes and benefits. But these negative stereotypes of new arrivals are nothing new and were in fact just as common in press reports from over a century ago.

In the period leading up to Britain’s first piece of immigration legislation in 1905, anti-immigration reporting in a range of newspapers reached levels of hysteria and frequency matching anything seen today. The targets back then were Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Tsarist Russia at the end of the nineteenth century.

It was working class East London that hosted most of these refugees and initially it was the London newspapers of the time voicing disapproval, using terms such as ‘aliens’ and ‘undesirables’  to describe newcomers. The Evening News ran stories almost daily during the summer of 1891, using headlines such as JEWISH INVASION and KEEP THE ALIENS OUT. Others such as the Eastern Post and the East London Observer soon jumped aboard, reporting of ‘foreign floods’ crowding locals out of homes and jobs and lowering wages. As with today’s stories, there was little evidence to support such claims.

It is estimated that around 150,000 refugees settled between 1880 and 1905, with many who came moving onto America. However, inaccurate statistics were published regularly. Reports of influxes of as many as 800,000 led to outraged readers letters. Arrivals found themselves accused of spreading everything from cholera to anarchism.

When popular national tabloids started to appear in the 1890s things intensified further. In 1904, The Sun* wrote of ‘criminals, undesirables and radicals’ who were ‘flocking to England in their thousands’ to ‘fill our hospitals, our asylums and prisons and the taxpayer has to support them and smile’.

The Express called immigrants a ‘menacing evil’ while in June 1904 The Mirror claimed ‘with almost every tide of the Thames a deposit of the floating wreckage of the continent is being left on our shores’.

The Mail, meanwhile – who only a few years back published 200 anti-asylum articles in one year – wrote a piece in February 1900 entitled SO-CALLED REFUGEES about a boat bringing 600 refugees to Southampton. ‘There was scarce a hundred of them that had, by right, deserved such help’, it reported, ‘and these were the Englishmen of the party. The rest were Jews’.

Reports in the broadsheets were only slightly more sober. The Times and The Observer did publish pieces recognising the benefits immigration had brought to Britain and voicing concerns about heightened prejudice, but even they published inaccurate statistics and supported harsh restrictive measures.

Like today, these newspapers at the time stated they weren’t being racist. Most sought to emphasise distinction between ‘respectable’  English Jews and the ‘alien pauper community’ of Russian and Polish Jews. But anti-Jewish sentiment increased at the time, with over 40,000 joining the nationalist British Brothers League.

The Aliens Act was eventually passed in 1905. It gave authorities the right to remove destitute immigrants and imposed controls against numerous groups seeking entry, including those with mental illness. Media hostility towards Jewish entrants continued right up until the eve of World War Two. The worrying similarities between media coverage then and now suggests that a few newspaper editors could do with some history lessons and a course in responsible journalism.

*this was a daily evening tabloid that ran between 1893-1906 and is not related to today’s The Sun newspaper which was launched in 1964.

This article was originally published in a 2012 edition of The New Londoners. Research was carried out at the former British Library of Newspapers in Colindale, North London. 


Migrants and refugees enter the trailer

Today, The Sun ran a story with the headline CHECKPOINT CHARLIES.

Carrying the sub-heading ‘European judges ‘open the floodgates’ to illegal immigrants after passport ruling’, the article goes on to bemoan the fact that the European Courts of Justice ruled that French authorities were wrong to imprison a Ghanaian woman caught trying to get through the Channel Tunnel with a fake passport.

The woman was held in France after being caught on a coach from Belgium to London.

The paper claims that the ruling gives a ‘green light for thousands of illegals wanting to get here from France’ and quotes UKIP politician Stephen Woolfe (misspelt as Wolf) as saying it ‘blows a hole in David Cameron’s argument that the EU makes us more secure’.

The ECJ ruling means that those entering illegally from one EU state to another should only be jailed as a last resort.

sun checkpoint charlies

However, the UK is exempt from the directive as it only applies to the Schengen zone on the continent.

Furthermore, the ruling does not state that those caught should go free with no sanctions. They are given a 30 day period to return home voluntarily before forced removal measures can be used.

According to the court ruling: ‘If voluntary departure does not take place, the directive requires the member states to carry out forced removal using the least coercive measures possible. It is only if there is a risk of the removal being compromised that the member state may keep the person concerned in detention, the duration of which may not in any case exceed 18 months’.

So all in all a fairly punitive measure and one that doesn’t directly affect the UK anyway. It seems like the only charlies in this instance are those working at The Sun.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.


express migrants-676978

The exaggeration and disinformation continues as we enter the ‘final straight’ in what feels like a marathon of an EU referendum. This blog spotted three clear offenders during a browse of this weekend’s Sunday editions…

First up, surprise surprise, is the Sunday Express, a paper which pumps out this sort of stuff on a weekly basis. This week it surpassed even its own low standards with a column by its editor Martin Townsend in which he compares illegal migrants to the Nazis (accompanied by the image above).

In a barely controlled rant titled BRITAIN’S BEACHES NOW FACE INVASION BY ILLEGAL MIGRANTS, Mr Townsend borrows from Churchill’s famous ‘fight them on the beaches’ speech and claims that ‘Britain is under threat directly, as it hasn’t been since the Second World War’.

The reason? A few dozen arrivals in boats at British coastal towns in Kent and Sussex.

Now, nobody is saying that people arriving illegally by sea isn’t a problem that needs dealing with properly. But a security threat on a par with an organised wartime military led by the most notorious fascist in history?

Not content with comparing these arrivals to Nazis, Mr Townsend goes on to link them to jihadis and he quickly tries to bring in the whole Brexit issue, implying that ‘our undemocratic Prime Minister and his ‘vote in’ cronies’ are the ones at fault.

But the boat arrivals have come from Albania, Vietnam and Iran – three countries outside the EU. Whether Britain votes In or Out later this month will make no difference to levels of illegal migration which is a completely separate matter to free movement within the EU.

Next up it’s the Sun On Sunday which wants us to believe that the nasty EU are planning to steal hard-earned money from the British taxpayer.

Headlined FACELESS BUREAUCRATS PLOT EU-WIDE TAX AS FEARS OVER SUPERSTATE GROW, the paper writes that ‘Eurocrats are plotting to launch an EU-wide tax system’ that could mean that the EU could ‘deduct cash at source from wage packets of all 245 million people across the continent’.

The paper quotes Eurosceptic Tory MP Liam Fox as saying: ‘In a few short years, the EU will be putting its hand into your pocket and making sure that you take home even less of your salary.’

But the plans actually refer to an EU action plan to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion that was introduced in 2012. The initiative was about cooperation and information sharing between member states to combat tax abuse which included closing tax loopholes and complying with minimum standards on tax governance.

The action plan included the idea of creating an EU Tax Identification Number (TIN) to make it easier to identify taxpayers engaged in cross-border transactions. Information can be seen here in points 11 and 22.

There is no EU TIN at present but there is a European TIN Portal where member states can choose to publish general information about their tax structures.

This is all to do with identifying taxpayers involved in cross-border transactions to try and combat fraud and, contrary to what the Sun says, has absolutely nothing to do with slapping an additional EU tax on UK citizens.

Finally the Sunday Mirror, which in general has not been in the Brexit camp among the press publications, gets in on the act with an opinion column by Carole Malone titled EU LAWS MEAN WE HAVE TO KICK OUT DECENT MIGRANTS AND ALLOW THE WRONG SORT TO STAY.

As can probably be imagined, it’s an argument along the lines of ‘we’re letting pesky EU criminals in and turfing out good eggs from outside the EU.’

But the example she uses is of an Albanian double murderer who was granted UK citizenship after posing as a Kosovan refugee. The more alert among you will have picked up on the fact that neither Albania nor Kosovo are EU member states.

Despite this, Ms Malone blames ‘EU’s idiot immigration laws’ and ‘human rights laws’ (which are not part of the EU) and says that ‘Britain HAS to be able to choose who settles here and we can only do that if we’re outside the EU.’

But whether we are in or out of the EU has no bearing on the immigration status of an Albanian immigrant or a Kosovan refugee.

It also has no bearing on the two cases she uses of non-EU families, both living in Scotland, who are facing deportation. These are a Canadian family living here for 8 years who apparently applied late for a visa renewal last year and have been unsuccessful in obtaining a business visa to cover their self-employed business; and an Australian family living here for 5 years who are at risk because the visa scheme that brought them here has been scrapped (although they have been told that they are at no immediate risk).

Sad as these stories are, as well as being evidence of unacceptable problems in our immigration system, they are nothing to do with this country’s membership of the EU and can’t be used as evidence to persuade people to vote one way or another in the referendum.

On a matter as important as Britain’s membership of the EU, a subject area where the majority of the electorate will freely admit their knowledge is a bit woolly, it would be nice to look towards the press for an objective, rational presentation of available information. Instead, we get rubbish like the three examples here. It says all that needs to be said about the state of the press in this country, and it’s no surprise that people are turning away from politics disengaged and confused.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.