This has been another fine week for EU deceits, lies and misrepresentations.
The chutzpah of the week award must go to Nicky Morgan who earlier this week ‘slammed’ Boris Johnson. Last month the former Mayor of London had urged gay people to vote to Leave the EU and specifically not to believe the lie that gay rights only exist in Britain because of the EU. As Boris pointed out, such rights come from ‘our courts and Parliament’ and not from Europe. Although this is a sectional argument, Boris was responding to an argument that can be heard across wider society. That argument claims that if Britain left the EU all human rights could be stripped away by a future Tory / Labour / SNP government who will then be allowed to crucify us all Isis-style. Only Jean-Claude Juncker, we are invited to believe, stands between us and such barbarism.
Anyhow, Boris’s temerity was too much for Nicky Morgan, who told Pink News that ‘anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender are absolutely embedded in EU law, which means that LGBT people benefit even more from being members of the EU’. Morgan went on, ‘I think what Boris said, and what others on that side have said, is very misguided. There is no doubt there are some people …. not Boris, but some people on the Leave side, probably aren’t interested in issues of discrimination. Some of them think equality has gone too far anyway.’
Golly. How long Ms Morgan must have championed gay rights to be able to speak from such a lofty height and intuit the inner soul of ‘Leave’ campaigners. Surely this could not be the same Nicky Morgan who just three years ago voted against gay marriage? Yet it seems it could be. In 2013 Morgan voted against the rights of gays to marriage equality and yet here she is in 2016 berating ‘Leave’ campaigners as vile homophobes if they haven’t yet got to get up to speed with where she was until the day before yesterday. Of course there is no evidence that ‘Leave’ campaigners are where Ms Morgan was three years ago, any more than are ‘Remainers’. It is simply a convenient smear for her now to deploy while trying to appeal to what she imagines is one ‘block’ of voters.
Special mention this week must go to Sian Berry, the London Assembly member and leading-light of the talent-poor Green party. Earlier this week Ms Berry said that there are about 100,000 couples in London where a British subject is in a relationship with an EU citizen. According to Ms Berry – though contrary to views of sane person on both sides of this debate – Brexit could mean all foreign people being deported. Therefore, in Berry-land, Brexit ‘could mean break-up’ for 10 per cent of London couples, with all the resulting misery that would ensue. Ms Berry has obviously given this huge amounts of thought. If I were her I would now bolster my argument by searching for the top-secret ‘Vote Leave’ document which explains their dastardly plan to ensure that from 24th June onwards British people are only allowed to have sex with British people, in the missionary position, with the lights out and only then provided they display no signs of pleasure.
The first of the major TV debates threw up plenty of heat and not much light. The generally agreed-upon highlight was when one member of the audience, one Emily Wood from Poole, complained that her elderly, disabled mother, cannot get the council bungalow she needs because immigrants are being ‘bumped up the list’. Ms Wood may have expected some sympathy because of her mother’s situation, but any such feeling was swiftly dissolved by the fact that Ms Wood was white and working class with insufficiently open-borders views on immigration. Fortunately for the programmers, one Asma Butt from Aberdeen was on hand to berate Ms Wood.
'The EU is not some kind of scapegoat for you to keep blaming for your problems' Ms Butt scolded Ms Wood, further adding, 'It's funny how you have selective memory. Just remember how immigrants like my family and people in this audience have built this nation'. This of course got an ecstatic and righteous ovation from the studio audience. This is strange. For although nobody need understate the contribution of some immigrants to this country, Great Britain was not in fact built by immigrants like Ms Butt’s family, but by the people who were already here. If some immigrants have brought some additional benefits then that is well and good, but one need not pretend that the UK was a failed state until the Windrush arrived. Clearly young people are educated to believe otherwise.
In any case, despite all these shenanigans, nothing this whole week could possibly surpass the vast panoply of porkies which got the week off to its start. The title ‘Fib of the week’ doesn’t really do justice to David Cameron’s appearance on Robert Peston’s ITV show last Sunday. It was a veritable mille feuille of fibbery. The PM was responding to an interview with defence minister Penny Mordaunt who had just said that Britain would be ‘unable to stop’ Turkey entering the EU if we remain in. Minutes later the PM stated that it was not ‘remotely on the cards’ that Turkey would join the EU. Claims to the contrary made by the ‘Leave’ campaign were ‘absolutely wrong’, he said, and ‘really call into question the judgement’ of those advocating Britain leave the EU. ‘They’re basically saying, “vote to get out of Europe because of this issue with Turkey – that we can’t stop joining the EU.” That is not true.’
Whether Robert Peston was too star struck or simply too grateful at having the PM on his new show, who can say. But the great sword of Damocles question hanging over this interview never fell. For some inexplicable reason Peston never said to Cameron, ‘But you yourself have said that you want Turkey to join the EU. You told Erdogan in 2010 that you would be his “strongest possible advocate for EU membership”. You told the Turkish Parliament in a speech still available on the Number 10 website that Turkish membership of the EU is “something I feel very strongly and very passionately about. Together I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels.”’
Alas all of this went unsaid. And so David Cameron got away with pretending that anybody who thinks Turkey might enter the EU should have their judgement questioned. Whereas he – who has spent his time as PM militantly campaigning for Turkey to enter the EU – should not be questioned about his own judgement. Or indeed questioned at all. How sad that Robert Peston went along with this conceit. It could have been one of the great moments of this campaign.