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Whether we voted Labour or Conservative, Leave or Remain, we all pay for the BBC through our licence fee.

We have no choice. In return, we expect our national broadcaster to reflect all our opinions even-handedly.

We don’t want the BBC to tell us that one side is right and the other wrong, or what we should believe, or which opinions are “true” and which are “false”.

But that is what the BBC has started to do, at least on the subject of Brexit...


LORD LILLEY When it comes to Brexit, the BBC uses fact-chuckers and not fact-checkers

We have no choice in paying our licence fee, so we expect our national broadcaster to reflect all our opinions even-handedly


Comment
By Lord Lilley
21st November 2018
The Sun

WHETHER we voted Labour or Conservative, Leave or Remain, we all pay for the BBC through our licence fee.

We have no choice. In return, we expect our national broadcaster to reflect all our opinions even-handedly.


When it comes to Brexit, the BBC uses fact-chuckers and not fact-checkers

We don’t want the BBC to tell us that one side is right and the other wrong, or what we should believe, or which opinions are “true” and which are “false”.

But that is what the BBC has started to do, at least on the subject of Brexit.

The BBC tried to be reasonably balanced during the referendum campaign, but it was so upset by the outcome that it has abandoned any attempt at impartiality and become grotesquely one-sided.

The views of Remainers are not just over-represented, they are rarely challenged. And scare stories about Brexit which are either exaggerated or completely imaginary are presented as fact.

The BBC rose to the bait and invited me on Radio 4 to be grilled by John Humphrys

I decided to compile a list of myths about Brexit — particularly scare stories about what will happen when we leave the Customs Union or if we leave Europe without a deal.

Then I compared them with the facts. Although the pamphlet did not mention the BBC, most of the myths were things we hear daily on its programmes.

The BBC rose to the bait and invited me into the Today programme on Radio 4 yesterday to be grilled by John Humphrys, its star interviewer. It was a fair enough interview. He challenged my arguments but I was able to refute his claims point by point.

However, they then brought on a chap called Chris Morris, described as the BBC “reality checker”, who was invited to rebut my document. But all he did was oppose my facts with the opinions of people with whom he agreed.

The BBC tried to be reasonably balanced during the referendum campaign, but it was so upset by the outcome that it has abandoned any attempt at impartiality and become grotesquely one-sided

He systematically argued the Remain case and defended their Project Fear scare stories. The one thing he did not do was bring in any new facts. My central claim was that if we leave the EU Customs Union but have a free trade agreement with the European Union, our businesses have little to fear.

The main difference will be that traders will have to send in a customs declaration detailing the goods they are buying from or selling to Europe.

That is a nuisance which we should try to simplify as much as possible.

But allegations that “this will be hugely costly, cause lengthy delays, disrupt supply chains and undermine economic growth” are imaginary or exaggerated.

We have no choice in paying our licence fee, so we expect our national broadcaster to reflect all our opinions even-handedly

“Fact checker” Morris said the majority of trade experts and freight companies to whom he had spoken robustly disagreed with me.

This is an opinion, not a fact.

Surely, if trading in a free trade area — like that which exists between Switzerland and the EU or between Canada and the US — is so intolerable, the people there would be calling for a customs union.

But they aren’t. I prefer their practical experience to the speculation of Mr Morris’s contacts.

I also quoted a report by the CLECAT organisation, which covers 17,000 companies handling 80 per cent of the freight and customs in Europe, who said: “All the ingredients to ensure a smooth exit process of the UK from the EU, and which allow almost frictionless trade after the exit, are already available.”

The idea that Mr Corbyn — a man who has voted more often against European membership than any other MP and went on holiday during the referendum — is a Remainer could only be taken for reality by a BBC reality checker

Why should a BBC fact checker’s unnamed contacts count for more than their considered view?

He then claimed there are no checks at the border at present. I go across to my house in France frequently and see the checks — for drugs, illegal immigrants, alcohol, cigarettes.

And companies have to report all their cross-border trade separately on their VAT returns and provide statistical returns to Brussels.

Then Mr Morris claimed there would be more checks by our customs officers at Dover, resulting in delays and disruption. That is nonsense.

The Head of Customs and Revenue has said it only stops and searches lorries at present where it has intelligence information about drugs, illegal immigrants, and goods such as tobacco and alcohol, upon which excise duty is paid.

It does not expect any of these risks to become more frequent. So it will not need to search any more vehicles.

As I was still in the studio, I was able to rebut his pathetic attempts to rebut my facts. Normally he gets a clear run.

But what is intolerable is that he almost never tries to rebut arguments by those trying to overturn the referendum result.

I asked him afterwards to name a single Remainer whose case he had attempted to dissect. When he replied that there were “lots”, I said it should be easy to name one and, after repeated challenges, he named Jeremy Corbyn.

The idea that Mr Corbyn — a man who has voted more often against European membership than any other MP and went on holiday during the referendum — is a Remainer could only be taken for reality by a BBC reality checker.

 Lord Lilley is a former Trade Secretary and Treasury Secretary under Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/778986...fact-chuckers/