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Coffee House Steerpike

Why can’t the New York Times stand Brexit?

25 March 2019

3:03 PM

25 March 2019

3:03 PM

It seems that the editors of the New York Times will print any nonsense about Britain — the British live on mutton and oatmeal! — so long as it confirms their prejudices about Brexit.

‘With nothing meaningful to say about our future, we’ve retreated into the falsehoods of the past, painting over the absence of certainty at our core with a whitewash of poisonous nostalgia,’ Sam Byers wrote on Saturday. The British, who are in fact more tolerant of immigration than any other European people, are supposedly ‘poisoned’ by ‘colonial arrogance’ and ‘dreamy jingoism’. Britain, whose stock market carries more trades per day than Wall Street, is somehow a ‘backwater’. Brexit has drawn this nation of mutton-sucking racists into ‘a haunted dreamscape of collective dementia — a half-waking state in which the previous day or hour is swiftly erased and the fantasies of the previous century leap vividly to the fore’. This condition is shared by the editorial board of the New York Times, so of course it appeals to them. But is it true?

If you want to understand what’s going on in the world, ask a novelist. They’ll tell you nothing but the truth. After all, it’s not like novelists are paid for making up stories. Sam Byers is a novelist. Mr S knows this because he looked him up. Byers’s most recent novel, Perfidious Albion (2018), failed to find an American publisher and is currently at #19,378 on Amazon’s UK list of fiction bestsellers. One reviewer describes it as the handiwork of a ‘woke Martin Amis’. In the eyes of the Times, this qualifies Byers to analyse a complex geopolitical process that pits direct democracy against parliamentary procedure in the context of transnational state-building.


Byers denounces himself like a worker in one of those ‘struggle sessions’ that so enlivened communist factory life, and still enrich the life of the campus. He repeats a series of fictions as fact, and the fact-checkers of the Times don’t bother to check, because their prejudices are his. So we read that Britons are fearful that their ‘European loved ones’ will lose their rights of residency after Brexit, when the British government has consistently promised that this won’t be the case. We read that vital medicines will run out — the Tories are killing the sick! — when the government insists that it has planned for this and a shortage of chocolate biscuits.

We read that Britain is ‘hopeless’ on climate change, when in fact its toxic emissions are declining, at least outside the opinion pages. We read that the British are even more fearful that certain exotic fruits with which they supplement their diet of mutton- and-oatmeal will be held up at customs — as if the importation of exotic fruits from the other side of the planet accords with Byers’s environmentalism. We read that the British despair of their future and are retreating into that most ‘toxic’ species of white supremacism, ‘national pride’.

Admittedly, Theresa May’s government couldn’t open a tin of cat food without showering the walls in blood and gravy. This does not alter the fact that Brexit is democracy at work: the recovery of national sovereignty from an EU that demands taxation from its member governments but denies representation to their subjects. Byers reckons Britain is on ‘a plane to nowhere’. But there are only two destinations. Britain either lands in the EU, or outside it. The British people voted to land outside it. Diversions, bad weather, and a shortage of special meals will not change that.

For the last two years, the NYT has reported every innuendo about the Mueller report as truth. But these reports now seem to be fictions, the propagandising fantasies of an elite that refuses to accept the results of democracy. Mr Steerpike thinks that the same goes for the Times’s left-minded right-thinking on Brexit.

This article was originally published on Spectator USA.


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