The anti-EU part of the press is always on the lookout for stories that give the impression that Britain will be fine outside the EU. These cynically-titled “Despite Brexit” stories talk up the smallest foreign investment, the most tenuous link to overseas contracts. So it was when news came though that the Australian Navy had awarded a contract to design and build nine new warships to BAe systems. Woah, Despite Brexit!
First with the inflation of this news into mythical status were the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who told readers “Despite Brexit … Brexit Britain Wins $35 Billion Contract To Build Aussie Warships”. There was more.
“Just breaking in Australia, possibly the biggest #DespiteBrexit yet: British defence giant BAE Systems has won the tender to design and manage the construction of nine anti-submarine warships. The deal represents the biggest peacetime building programme in Australian naval history and is worth $35 billion, or £20 billion. It is being reported that the clincher was Gavin Williamson’s decision to send Royal Navy ships to Australia and the Pacific”. And the Europhobic press was soon on to the story, too.
The Murdoch Sun even got their non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn to do the honours. Under the headline “Britain to build warships for Australia after beating EU to £20BILLION deal”, he told “A £20BILLION deal for Britain to build warships for Australia was last night hailed as a Brexit boost … Prime Minister Theresa May helped to fight off competition from Spain and Italy to win the massive contract, which secures more than 4,000 jobs”. It does? Tell us more, O not so wise one.
What a mug. And, indeed, what a mug
“Mrs May personally lobbied Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull at Chequers earlier this year … International Trade Secretary Liam Fox also went Down Under to hail Britain’s world class innovation … Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson played a key role, despatching three Royal Navy ships to the Asia- Pacific region to showcase the UK’s prowess”. Wow. Even the Daily Mail got in on the action.
And there the game was finally given away. After telling readers “Deal of the century: UK defence firm BAE wins contract worth £20billion for Australian warship fleet in major boost for Brexit Britain”, the Dacre doggies let slip “The construction programme is the biggest of its kind to take place in Australia since Second World War”. Ah. Not built in Britain, then?
Indeed not. And the BBC had worse news for avid Brexiteers: “The ships will be based on anti-submarine frigates that BAE is building for the UK's Royal Navy. However, the new warships will be built in Australia by a local workforce”. Not only built in Australia, but based on an existing design, so very little extra UK design work, either.
The Beeb has confirmed this: “While the overall budget is £19.6bn, only a part of that will come to BAE Systems for the design and build of the frigates”. Once again, the press, and especially the Sun, has been caught treating the Fawkes rabble as a reliable source. They should have learned about that after being suckered over the Jeremy Corbyn “Stasi File” that did not in fact exist. Tom Newton Dunn - one of “The commentators that count”.
Brexit is such bad news, the good news has to be invented. No change there, then.