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.
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