The dwindling band of hacks at the supposedly flagship title of the Desmond media empire, the Daily Express, have discovered that they can make whatever ridiculous assertions they want about the EU, and as the paper is no longer covered by the PCC, they get away with no more than a protest from the EC representative in London. So the fantasy stories keep on coming.
This culminated last week in a front page splash so blatantly untrue that not even the folks at Private Eye would have run with it. “EU Plot To Scrap Britain” carried an “Exclusive” tag, mainly because no other paper would be so utterly batshit to make up such a story. As the customarily excellent Tabloid Watch pointed out, this was denounced by the EC man in London as a “total fantasy”.
But in for a penny, and all that: today has brought another EU claim that has also been made up, this being “All Migrants To Get A BritishPension”, with the less than totally subtle sub-heading “New EU plot to grab our benefits”. The usual talking heads are quoted, self-promoting Tory MP Priti Patel and UKIP leader Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. But it’s a complete pile of crap.
The Express quotes “sources” at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), which at first lends an air of authority, until you realise that it’s a Bank Holiday weekend and it is most unlikely that anyone would be available to talk on the record on what is hardly a matter of urgency or national importance (unless one counts going along with the Desmond press’ appetite for fantasy as important).
And it’s clear that this story is going nowhere when the piece refers back to the already debunked “Scrap Britain” one from last week. There was no “plot” then, and there is no “plot” now. This “story” includes talk of Turkey and “its 75 million citizens” for the sole reason that it wants to stir up xenophobia and that the majority religion of that country is Islam.
Indeed, as an EC spokesman has told the Express, “None of this means anyone, wherever they are from, can just pitch up in the UK and claim benefits. For non- EU citizens, working or not, the UK decides who to let in and for how long and whether to recognise them as resident”. And that means Turkey. And anywhere else not part of the EU or European Economic Area (EEA).
Still, it sells a few more copies of an otherwise irrelevant rag, and helps Des maintain his comfortable financial position. And we know what that makes it: another Benchmark Of Excellence.