Anti-Brexit group Britain Stronger in Europe has started its propaganda push with a £1.5m leaflet drop. It focuses – with hackneyed predictability – on threats that outside the single market, three million UK jobs will be at risk.

News-watch research shows that for years, BBC presenters and reporters have been allowing Europhiles to get away with these totally unfounded claims – devastatingly debunked by the Institute of Economic Affairs in March – virtually without challenge.

It is now becoming increasingly clear that nothing is going to change in BBC coverage in the run-up to the EU referendum.

Why? In effect, a Radio 4 programme broadcast on Thursday was a clear declaration that the Corporation will be actively campaigning to amplify such messages – especially those about the single market.

Perhaps there is no surprise in this – after all an ex-BBC strategy chief, Carolyn Fairbairn, is now director-general of the fanatically Europhile Confederation of British Industry and  has been declaring her referendum plans to the Guardian; and Sir Roger Carr, a former president of the CBI, is now deputy chairman of the BBC Trustees. The Corporation is so steeped in the importance of Brussels that it cannot see or think outside that bubble.

At what point, however, does biased BBC reporting tip over into being deliberately untrue?

According to many EU experts, that divide was crossed by the programme in question, an edition of the In Business slot which, in essence, on the basis of what can loosely be called unchallenged misinformation, purported to show what it claimed was the hugely negative impact on Norway of daring not to be a member of the Brussels club.

Hot on the heels of a similarly massively anti-Brexit programme by Carolyn Quinn – described here on The Conservative Woman – reporter Jonty Bloom conveyed to listeners without qualification or counter opinion a central untruth: that even though Norway was not in the EU, it was forced to follow EU directives, with potentially disastrous consequences. He suggested that being on the outside entailed vast expense for the Norwegian economy and meant it had no input into policy-making.

To illustrate this, he put centre stage in the programme an interview with a spokesman from an Oslo boiler manufacturer (called Oso, no doubt also chosen partly for its ardently ‘green’ agenda) which, it was alleged, had faced near disaster. Bloom said that the company had been doing very well until an EU directive covering tough changes in the regime around safety and ecological requirements of water-heating equipment suddenly appeared on the horizon.

He contended that the company had only been saved from ruinous new costs of up to £10 million by last minute intervention by France, which had used its offices to secure an opt-out for Norway from the new regulations.

He larded the tale with dark warnings about other costs and pitfalls of being outside the single market – exactly in tune with the Britain Stronger in Europe leaflet and the direst warnings of the CBI. The full transcript of the programme is on the News-watch website.

Bloom’s programme opened with almost-reasonable interviews with Norwegian fishermen and farmers. He explained that opposition to the EU was rooted in these core economic areas.

But then the rot set in. According to website Leave HQ, what followed about the boiler-maker and Norway’s involvement with EU rules and the single market was ‘a pack of lies’, essentially because it most certainly does have influence, through its participation in the European Economic Area (EEA) and membership of EFTA (the European Free Trade Association).

The EU Referendum website explains:

‘In fact…right from the very start, the heating world exploded in outrage (against the proposed regulations). Not only did Norway object, but the issue was taken up by the Nordic Council of Ministers….It took until August 2013, more than three years after the draft regulations had been published, for the highly revised regulations, during which period the Norwegians were fully consulted.

‘To allow a claim that it was simply “blind luck” that prevented the original, more Draconian proposals coming into force is a travesty. It simply isn’t true.’

There is not the space here to go into everything that Bloom got wrong – or about subsequent alleged highly dubious tampering with copy on the BBC website – but at its heart was the parading of a blatant untruth: that Europhiles from David Cameron downwards want us to believe: for countries outside the EU, and especially Norway, there is only darkness and despair.

There are dozens of different sources that Bloom could have approached to obtain a different and more realistic picture why up to 85 per cent of Norwegians do not want to join the EU and why it is, in consequence, one of the richest countries in the world. One is Kathrine Kleveland, leader of the Nei til EU campaign, who explains admirably here the advantages for her country of being outside the EU. To her, it is emphatically not a second best, involves no loss of national sovereignty or control, and allows Norwegians at every level a better and fuller say in trade negotiations because they are not funnelled through the EU.

This underscores that with EU affairs, nothing that the Corporation broadcasts can be trusted; everything is crafted with one end – to show that life outside the EU is, for the UK, and every other European country that is not yet a member, an unsustainable impossibility.


(Image Courtesy Tor-Sven Berge, Flickr)


  1. Saw an interview of a Scottish salmon trader who has just had to renew his packaging at great cost to include the warning that the contents “Contains Fish” this is precisely why we must remove this millstone from our necks and vote to Leave.

  2. I cannot help but think that the MSM should be prevented from airing anything at all about Europe. Instead there should be regular broadcasts that stress the need for people to consider the question carefully and to find out for themselves through their own research.

  3. Meanwhile, the Norwegians and Swiss, who have insisted on staying independent, are living in poverty and fear. Not!

    • I wonder how many of the prospective referendum voters know which country in the world has the highest per capita earnings from manufacturing?
      It’s Switzerland.

  4. You might have added that the CBI is heavily funded by the EU,as is the BBC to a small extent, and that we import about half our oil from Norway. How does it cross those crippling tariff barriers?

    The whole EU agenda has been built on mendacity for over 40 years.

    It’s instructive to compare the growth in the world share of trade by the EU and the Commonwealth over that same period; but heart-breaking.

    • Indeed Heath LIED to us to get us in and Camoron is proceeding to LIE to us to keep us in because he’s a “good European”. Who thinks of himself as European first and British last. Corbyn is even worse so where does that leave us?

  5. There is a single question for us when we get the chance to vote. Do we want to be a province of the United States of Europe or do we want to be an independent country in control of our own destiny – whatever that might be; however good or bad that might be? We are the 5th largest economy in the world. We buy far more from the European Union countries, as opposed to Europe which is not the same thing, that we sell to them. They need us more than we need them. We have an enterprising people living in a stable country where there is the rule of law. We are more than able to paddle our own canoe in the world and to be successful. The question of whether we would be better off in or out is a sideshow and a distraction. The debate is being conducted is if it were a general election campaign and we can choose which direction to go in, but if we get it wrong we can boot them out in 5 years time. There will be no second chance and no booting out. The size of the European Union means that British voters, no matter how much they dislike what is happening, are powerless to stop it if the other countries want to go in a different direction. That is why it is so important to focus on and stay focused on the true question of principle: do we want to by our own independent country looking out into the world, or a province of a declining superstate?

    • Our Parliamentary democracy has its defects but it is ours, devised and amended by us to suit us and we can change it, develop it, amend it as we choose. We do not have to seek the approval of another twenty eight countries to change nor do we have to be outvoted on their whim. The sovereignty is ours to do with as we wish, for better or worse, but already we have lost a great deal of it and the present treaties prevent its restoration. The richest countries in the world are those who have the greatest freedom and independence and whose citizens achieve the best quality of life. The entire concept of the EU is the antithesis of ours; it is non-democratic, power being exercised by unelected bureaucrats and is an enforced amalgamation of incompatible cultures.

  6. Oh be fair people. I heard on BBC Essex this very morning that the EU has kept the peace in Europe since 1945. Before it even existed in fact. Which is remarkable. Thanks James Whale for that gem. Don’t you just love the BBC’s legendary impartiality.
    Really peaceful in the the former Yugoslavia wasn’t it….only the EU can deliver this with it’s prohibitions on bendy Banana’s. Nothing to do with Nato and it’s armed forces it was the legions of Brussels Bureaucrats wot done it.

  7. Excellent article. I have kept my eyes on both the BBC and CBI but did not realize how entwined the two are considering the above personnel exchange!

    Norway (EFTA/EEA) has a lot of relevance to the UK (EU/EEA) given we’re not going to join the likes of Germany/France et al (EZ/EEA).

    But also Norway (EEA excludes the CFP) is a perfect exemplar of The Great Deception in one policy area: Fisheries. Look at The Campaign For An Independent Britain’s articles by Tom Hay and John Ashworth on this:

    Evidently this is a very important industry in Norway and should be in the UK! Compare and contrast: EFTA/EEA vs EU/EEA.

  8. In your research you might have mentioned that a good deal of Norway’s prosperity has come from …..OIL

  9. Does anyone know how much of the TV licence charge goes to the BBC direct, bearing in mind that C4 gets a small amount and presumably others as well? We really do need a broad front against these bandits as they fob off complaints with a blizzard of verbiage. While I loath the Guardian and its hypocrisy at least I’m not forced to subscribe to it.

    • Unfortunately, you do subscribe to the Guardian via BBC recruitment advertising which helps keep them afloat.

    • Just refuse to pay it.

      Either get rid of your TV (You really won’t miss it, you can find anything you want on radio, online or on DVD and you’ll be less of a couch potato), or ring the BBC, state that you use catch up services only and a games console/DVD player/whatever. Then revoke their implied right of access to your front door.

      The onus is on them to prove that you watch tv live. They can’t do that without accessing your house, they can’t do that without your permission or a warrant and they can’t get a warrant without reasonable suspicion, and they can’t have reasonable suspicion without access to your windows.

      If someone turns up at your door, refuse to give them any information and let them know that they are trespassing. You’ll get a threatening letter every month. Save them up and then sue the b*stards for harassment.

      • All good stuff, and I’ve been through that. But we shouldn’t have to, should we? Sooner the BBC crashes and burns, the better.

        • Absolutely correct. We shouldn’t have to. No TV, then no contract with the BBC and they have no right for them or their agents in Capita to harass me. Vodaphone don’t send round people every month to check I’m not on their contract and threaten me with imprisonment if I don’t sign up immediately.

  10. While being outside the EU does not mean economic death, the example of Norway is somewhat flawed, as the country has enjoyed a disproportionate per-capita revenue from oil and gas (thanks to its comparatively small population). Also: have you seen the price of a pint there?

  11. Norway is rich,but it’s fishing industry had to relocate to Scotland for it to do business with the EU,and it’s the 10th biggest contributor to the EU budget.

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