Marr put this to Coveney: “Without third country status, which is being withheld at the moment by Michel Barnier, it is not going to be possible for goods to pass freely from Great Britain into Northern Ireland. Are you seriously suggesting the EU would allow that to happen? Would actually blockade goods going from Britain into Northern Ireland, because that on the face of it is what is proposed by Michel Barnier”.
Coveney, unmoved and indeed unimpressed, responded with this caution: “There is no blockade proposed, and that is the kind of inflammatory language coming from No 10 which is spin, and not the truth”. Barnier himself later put Marr straight.
“Protocol on IE/NI is not a threat to the integrity of the UK. We agreed this delicate compromise with [Boris Johnson] & his gov in order to protect peace & stability on island of Ireland. We could not have been clearer about the consequences of [Brexit] … Sticking to facts is also essential. A case in point: [the EU] is not refusing to list [the UK] as a third country for food imports (SPS). To be listed, we need to know in full what a country’s rules are, incl. for imports. The same objective process applies to all listed countries”.
The EU, as a rules based organisation, was applying its rules. The UK had not yet told them what its rules would be. Aisling Donohue put the scenario thus. “UK: Can we sell you beef? … EU: Are you going to feed your cattle dead sheep and develop a new health threat? … UK : *shrugs* Haven't decided yet, can we sell you beef? … EU: We need to know if it will be safe, clarify your rules first … UK: They're blockading Northern Ireland!!!!!”
Peter Walker of the Guardian saw the problem here. “Simon Coveney on #Marr making [the] point that it’s not valid to talk as if there are two, valid sides to the current Brexit row. And it’s a conundrum for UK journalists, as faced in US with Trump: how do you discuss what your leaders say when it is obviously, demonstrably not true?” There was more.
“And this is [the] case whatever side of the Brexit argument one is on: No 10’s argument that it’s EU suddenly threatening NI peace/moving the goalposts is not only untrue, but obviously so. Makes it tricky to present it with BBC-style ‘balance’/they said-you said. It’s a new world”. That includes the Telegraph editorial which was put during the show’s paper review as a valid “one side says this”. The Beeb is being played by bad faith actors.
This comes back to chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, whose horizons extend only to scoring points during each iteration of the news cycle, so he can declare that he and his pals are “winning”. That the UK is about to be screwed over royally is not his problem. And the BBC’s commitment to “balance” is easy for him to subvert.
“This is the actual state of negotiations” versus “here’s a pack of lies the Polecat briefed to the press”. “Here’s an epidemiologist” versus “here’s Toby Young”. “Here’s a leading economist” versus “here’s Darren Grimes”. And on it goes. Another part of Robbie Gibb’s legacy? Whatever, the Corporation has to cut this out. Before it cuts them out.
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