Charles Moore

Brexit isn’t the cause of High Street woes

Brexit isn’t the cause of High Street woes
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As someone who follows the news on Radio 4 at 6, 7 and 8 each morning, I notice that the bulletins begin very leftish and become slightly less so later. I assume the unit responsible, ‘Newsgathering’, works through the night from its default political position. So it relies heavily on the ready supply of ‘news’ from pressure groups, NGOs and right-on charities: ‘A new report warns that millions will die unless the government immediately injects £400 billion into X’; ‘A survey by an independent, Brussels-based think tank reveals that independent, Brussels-based think tanks believe that Brexit will be a disaster for Britain’. As actual news gets going, this dreary propaganda is sometimes dislodged by reality. The Times, though much better at news than the BBC, has a similar Remainer default. Its first edition on Monday ran the headline ‘50,000 jobs lost as high street hit by Brexit and online rivals’, despite the fact that the story mentioned Brexit only once (‘Brexit-fuelled inflation’), and only in the fifth paragraph. In later editions, someone noticed: the headline became ‘High street sheds 50,000 jobs in battle with internet rivals’. If you read the report, you could see that the cause of high street problems, as well as internet rivalry, was the rise in business rates, not Brexit at all.

This is an extract from Charles Moore's Spectator Notes, which appears in this week's magazine