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What the papers say: Boris’s ‘indiscreet’ way with words and Project Fear comes unstuck

17 November 2016

8:32 AM

17 November 2016

8:32 AM

In the run-up to the referendum, the Treasury warned that unemployment would rise by half-a-million. Today, this prophecy comes in for criticism in the papers following yesterday’s news that the number of Brits out of work had tumbled to an 11-year low. It’s not only Project Fear which gets a hard time in the editorials though. The moaning ‘anti-Brexit mob’ are also criticised – while the Guardian savages Boris Johnson for making a ‘fool of himself’.

The Sun launches an attack on the moaning ‘anti-Brexit mob’ in its leader this morning, saying that it seems that the better the economic outlook since the referendum ‘the louder the caterwauling’ from those unhappy with the result. The paper says that rather than the doom and gloom prophesied by Project Fear coming true, the reality since the votehas been almost unwaveringly positive’ – pointing to yesterday’s unemployment figures and steadying levels of inflation to prove its point. The Sun also says Google’s decision to create an extra 3,000 jobs in Britain, and Angela Merekl’s hint that she might be willing to give ground on freedom of movement, shows that Britain’s Brexit deal won’t be as bad as people think. But despite the gulf between those cheering on Brexit and those still wanting Britain to stay put in the EU, the Sun does say there is something the opposing sides can find common ground over: the fact that ‘economic forecasts are clearly a mug’s game’.


The Times also touches on Angela Merkel’s remarks that it is a good moment to ’discuss further when this freedom of movement applies from’. But instead of saying this shows Britain can win ground on the EU’s steadfast commitment to the principle of free movement, the paper says Merkel’s comments were actually a repeat of her earlier vow ‘to restrict new arrivals’ access to social security’. Yet the paper does go on to say that the idea that free movement is non-negotiable ought to be challenged. The Times says that the Treaty of Rome, which kickstarted the European project in the first place, talked of free movement for ‘workers’ rather than people. It says, however, that a slow shift in thinking over the decades has seen that definition loosen. Instead, the paper says, it’s time to row back and realise that free movement for all need not be a ‘logical necessity’ and the EU won’t collapse if control is handed back to countries.

In its editorial, the Daily Mail touches on yesterday’s job figures showing unemployment had fallen again. The paper quotes from a Treasury report released in May which said Brexit would make 500,000 jobless. The Mail says that after the ‘scare’ now come the ‘facts’: ‘In the three months to September, unemployment fell by 37,000 to a ten-year low. Isn’t that Project Fear in a nutshell?’ the paper asks.

Boris Johnson comes in for a kicking in the Guardian this morning. The paper says Britain is paying the price for having ‘an indiscreet foreign secretary at the core of such a hugely serious project as Brexit’. The Guardian also tells off Boris for saying it was ‘bollocks’ that free movement was a founding principle of the EU. It says his language shows that Boris is showing the same ‘verbal intemperance’ that got him into trouble before he made it to high office. In its editorial, the paper concludes by saying Boris is making a ‘fool of himself’ – and if Theresa May isn’t careful, we will all pay the price.


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