How tabloid fooled its readers over Brexit court case

Paul Mason
Nov 4, 2016 · 8 min read

The Sun published a long front page “news” story today that totally failed to state what happened. Instead it went out of its way to incite hatred of foreigners, accusing people of exercising their rights of “betraying” Brexit.

The newspaper, owned by US citizen Rupert Murdoch, said “loaded foreign elite will defy will of Brit voters”. Remember that phrase the next time you are unlucky enought to meet a Sun journalist.

I’ve worked in print, as a subeditor as well as a reporter, so I know not a single word gets written by accident. Here’s my breakdown of the Sun’s story on the Brexit court case, line by line. The Sun’s words are in italics.

A MOTLEY handful of EU-based campaigners led by a foreign-born multi-millionaire sparked fury after throwing Theresa May’s Brexit plans into chaos.

*** Hold on, what happened? Yep, there’s no facts in this sentence, and no info, despite it being written by someone very angry. The fact is, judges decided something in court, but the Sun wants you to focus — without even knowing the facts — on who brought that case. They sound foreign. Were they “foreign”? Let’s see…

The PM had wanted to invoke Article 50, starting the formal two-year Brexit process, without going to Parliament for a vote.

*** Perfectly clear sentence. But what happened yesterday?

But three judges ruled in favour of the group of 11 “Wrexiteers” — headed by Guyana-born fund manager Gina Miller.

*** Ah right, the judges ruled something. What? We’re not told. Now here’s the main point: one of the people who brought the case was “Guyana-born”. Yes, like around 10% of soldiers in the British Army, she is from the Commonwealth. But unlike them, she grew up here and lives here permanently. She is British.

The dramatic High Court decision threatened to trigger a must-win vote for Mrs May of MPs in the Commons on whether Article 50 should be invoked.

*** Finally you get to find out a little bit of what happened — after four paragraphs front loaded with anti-foreigner bullshit and anger. The court ruled there has to be a vote in Parliament to trigger Article 50. Now why did they do that? What was their reason. Surely the Sun will tell you?

There was fury that Brexit, voted for by 17 million Brits, could be betrayed by the tiny group of Remainers. The outfit, backed by law firm Mishcon de Reya, also includes Brazilian-born hairdresser Deir Dos Santos.

*** How are the tiny group of Remainers “betraying” Brexit? In fact, can you betray a political process? Not really. The Sun wants you to think that they are betraying Britain. And here’s two more foreign sounding names. Mischon de Reya and Deir Dos Santos. Mr Dos Santos is British. Mishcon de Reya was founded by British Second World War soldier Victor Mishcon, in Brixton, just after he was demobbed.

Others are expat Brit Grahame Pigney — based in southern France — and Welsh-Italian environmental consultant Christopher Formaggia, who tweeted last night: “Victory against the fascist May Government.”

*** So the picture is building up. People who used their right to buy a house abroad, assuming that the UK would stay in the EU, are to be portrayed as “foreign” even though they are entirely British. Or people with foreign-sounding names who are British: they’re also suspect. The Sun will have put a load of effort into finding out all this, and the men writing this are not ignorant pigs, they have degrees.

It’s all designed to make you, the reader, mistake British people exercising their rights for “foreigners”, and to belive they are part of a “loaded foreign elite”.

But Downing Street played down suggestions that the PM could call a snap general election next year to ensure she has enough supportive MPs to get her plan through the House.

*** See, again, when it wants to tell you the government’s side of the story, the Sun uses simple sentences and no weird innuendo. But not for long…

Mrs Miller, 51, who set up her own financial investment firm with 52-year-old husband Alan, said outside the High Court that the ruling was “about our United Kingdom and all our futures”. The Remainers raised £170,000 online to launch the appeal to block the triggering of Article 50.

*** Why are we hearing about Alan? This is the Sun’s sly way of warning you, and them, that it is ready to get put a team of sleazebags, phone hackers and bent coppers on the case to find stuff out about Mr and Mrs Miller.

Lord Chief Justice Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Sir Terence Etherton and Lord Justice Sales ruled the PM could not trigger it alone via the Royal Prerogative.

*** What’s the Royal Prerogative? Anyway, it’s clear they ruled against Theresa May but why? There’s no information here about why, and we’re already half way through.

The Government immediately appealed and the Supreme Court will hear the case on December 7. Ukip’s Nigel Farage warned of public outrage if Parliament blocked the referendum result.

*** There’s no suggestion of parliament “blocking” the referendum result — for a reason explained by the judges but not in this article. Are you any wiser? No? Read on…

The three Wrexiteers. Gina Miller. THE investment manager was born in Guyana, South America, where her dad was the Attorney General.

*** Column space is scarce. So why are we concentrating on where Mrs Miller went to school? Answer: because the Sun wants you to worry about Mrs Miller and not why the judges made their ruling. So it tells you..

She grew up in Britain and went to the £27,000-a-year Moira House School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, before studying marketing and HR at the University of London.

*** In other words she’s a success story. But because her skin is brown and she went to private school the Sun wants you to think she is “foriegn”

She and third husband Alan set up SCM Private in 2009 but it has yet to turn a profit and lost £440,700 last year.

Husband Alan again. Third husband. Nudge, nudge. And they are loss-making businesspeople. Terrible that — you’re meant to think. Mind you, Rupert Murdoch’s firm News Corp lost $143 million in just three months this year so it can happen to the best of us.

Mrs Miller also runs charity the True and Fair Foundation.

*** This means: The Sun will be investigating that charity good and proper now. Everything Mrs Miller does will be deemed a matter of “public interest” just because she asserted her right to go to court and see if the government was acting legally. Her life will be turned over.

Grahame Pigney: THE semi-retired IT consultant set up the People’s Challenge campaign group to crowd-fund cash for the legal challenge.

*** The Sun will be giving that group a good going over, too. Forensic accounting, the lot. Exercise your rights as an individual, before the law, and they will give you the same treatment we gave Princess Di.

Mr Pigney, 62, commuted from his idyllic cottage in the Alaigne region of South West France to work in the UK.

*** This means: he’s comfortably off, living the kind of life many people dream of, because he has a skill and worked hard. So let’s hate him.

The thought of an EU exit disrupting his commute inspired him to take up the legal challenge.

*** Yes, because the UK signed a treaty saying travel within Europe should be easy, just the same as when Sun readers go on holiday in Spain or Greece. In future, Brit holidaymakers may have to join a separate queu with Chinese people and Americans at EU passport control desks, but the Sun does not want you to worry about that right now.

His modest house is tucked away from the main single-track road and overlooks nothing but vineyards for miles around.

*** This means: The Sun’s journalists will be going through his bin-bags in that quiet lane, and those vineyards will make good cover for the sleazy photographers the Sun will now pay thousands to photograph him on long lenses, day and night, to make his life a misery, because he excercised his legal rights.

Mr Pigney, above, claims the Government’s plan to trigger Article 50 would be “an act of constitutional vandalism”.

*** Hold on, constitution? Is there a threat to the British constitution involved? We fought a war for that! What does this mean? Did the judges in some way agree with this rich, vino-quaffing geezer that our democracy is under threat?

There’s nothing about that in this article. Because the Sun does not want you to know about it.

Deir Dos Santos: THE Brazilian-born hairdresser is “just an ordinary guy” who challenged the way Brexit was going to happen. The 37-year-old, who actually voted to Leave, was unhappy with the way the Government planned to trigger Article 50.

*** Hold on, if he’s Brazilian born how did he get a vote? Ah, he’s British like all the rest of them. That’s why he had the right to go to the court. And here’s silly old you, thinking they were all foreign because the Sun keeps printing the word “foreign”.

Mr Dos Santos has British citizenship and lives in London. He said after the case: “Today’s judgment is a victory for everyone who believes in the supremacy of our Parliament and the rule of law.

*** Why is he going on about this? Surely the Sun will explain to us, even here at the end of the article, what did the judges say about Parliament and the law?

“I have never challenged the result of the referendum — in fact I voted for Brexit for the sole reason that I wanted power to be returned to Parliament.

“But I did not think it was right for the Government then to bypass Parliament and try to take away my legal rights without consulting Parliament first.”

*** And that’s the end. None of them are challenging the result or “blocking” Brexit. They just want parliament to be consulted first. What did the judges say about that?

Well the Sun didn’t have time to tell its readers anything about that — so I will.

In court the judges explained there’s 400 years of British law — which we fought a Civil War (1642) and a Glorious Revolution (1688) to defend — that says only Parliament can express the will of the people.

The judges produced this simple quote from Albert Dicey the man who wrote the textbook on constitutional law. Don’t worry — he was British; and he hated black people and thought women should not have the vote. But he wrote in 1915:

“The Judges know nothing of any will of the people except insofar as that will is expressed by an Act of Parliament …”

What it means is that, for all the bullshit and bluster on both sides during the referendum campaign, only Parliament can turn the Brexit result into a law. The Sun didn’t mention that.

Should the government have told us that before we voted? Yes. Did they tell us clearly? No.

Because the whole thing was turned into a fake revolt of the poor against the “elite”, and now it’s being turned into “Brits against foreigners”.

So you’ve now got people being shouted at in the streets, or on trains — who are British and have lived here for donkey’s years, because their accent or their name sounds foreign, or because their skin is brown.

That is the shit you are paying the Sun to dump into your brain.

Mosquito Ridge

Resist the right!

Paul Mason

Written by

Journalist, writer and film-maker. Former economics editor at BBC Newsnight. Author of Clear Bright Future: A radical defence of the human being

Mosquito Ridge

Resist the right!

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