Complaint submitted on November 18th
This complaint relates to several Brexit related broadcasts that appeared on BBC Scotland.
Good Morning Scotland, Nov 1st.
Presenter Gary Robertson tells listeners the ‘People’s Vote’ Campaign is “calling for another vote on whether the UK should leave the European Union…”
This is demonstrably false. The ‘People’s Vote’ campaign is not calling for another vote on whether the UK should leave the European Union. It is seeking a vote on the final Brexit deal.
Reporting Scotland, Nov 7th. Sally McNair tells viewers: “MSPs have demanded a further referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.”
The item followed a vote in the Scottish Parliament earlier that day. The motion did not ‘demand a further referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union’. It asked MSPs to: “… support a public vote on the final terms of the Brexit deal.”
Politics Scotland, Oct 21st.
Host Gordon Brewer states that a failure of Theresa May to secure support for her Withdrawal Bill will lead to a “Hard Brexit”. This is false. May has always argued that a rejection of the Withdrawal Bill will result in a No Deal. Hard Brexit and No Deal are not the same thing.
Reporting Scotland, Nov 9th.
Andrew Kerr states that a No Deal is also known as a “Hard Brexit”. This is false. A ‘No Deal’ is not the same as a ‘Hard Brexit’. [See clip above]
Radio Scotland phone-in, Nov 15th.
Kaye Adams falsely described a No Deal as a Hard Brexit. This is false.
A ‘No Deal’ is worse than a ‘Hard Brexit’. Hard Brexit is the leaving of the EU with a deal but with no membership of the Single Market & Customs Union. No Deal is exactly as it sounds … literally leaving the EU with no deal and falling back on World Trade Organisation accords.
The BBC itself makes clear the difference between No Deal and a Hard Brexit. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44858385
In all of the above cases, viewers have been misled. An acknowledgement, apology and correction should be issued.
Response from Deputy Head of News and Current Affairs received 28 Nov.
Thank you for being in touch about a number of programmes on various dates. I deal with your points in order.
Your view of what the People’s Vote campaign is arguing for is at variance with what our political editor told Gary Robertson after the introduction on 1st November’s Good Morning Scotland – namely, that he had spoken to the organisers of the campaign launch that day and they had told him that their preference would be a choice between, on the one hand, the terms and details which emerge as the Brexit plan and, on the other, staying in the EU.
Brian Taylor further explained that there were those broadly in support of the People’s Vote who feel that the choice should be between the terms and Parliament thinking again. This may explain why the People’s Vote website is not clear as to what the vote would actually be about. You therefore appear to have a firmer idea of what the People’s Vote is about than those seeking to organise it.
I would add here that in her video played at the October march in favour of a people’s vote, the First Minister said: “Let me say this loudly and clearly, if the issue comes before the House of Commons, SNP MPs will support a People’s Vote which includes the option to remain in the EU.” Speaking on stage in Parliament Square at the end of the march, Joanna Cherry QC MP (SNP) said: “Scotland is looking at being taken out of the EU against her will and I am very, very proud to say that when we know what the Brexit deal looks like, we will support a People’s Vote that includes the option to Remain.”
You correctly quoted Sally McNair as saying: “MSPs have demanded a further referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.” That is a fair summary of what happened. Our political editor explained that the idea was to have a second referendum – a “public vote” – on the terms of Brexit rather than the original vote which was on the principle.
On what was said on Politics Scotland on 21st October, you say that “Hard Brexit and No Deal are not the same thing”. That is a point of view, not a fact. The same applies to your gloss on programmes on 9th and 15th November.
Further, you argue that the BBC makes clear the difference between No Deal and a Hard Brexit. The online page to which you make reference suggests there are four Brexit options – Leave with a deal; Leave without a deal; Stay in the EU; and Hold another referendum. The online story says that those arguing for leaving without a deal are “the so-called ‘hard brexiteers’.” You seem to suggest that the BBC has established a distinction between no deal and hard Brexit which is not borne out by what they say.
Follow up complaint submitted Nov 30th.
The process requires that I request BBC Scotland reconsider its initial reply.
On the broadcast by Gary Robertson, the Deputy Head of News and Current Affairs [DHNCA] cites Nicola Sturgeon and a member of the People’s Vote campaign group in order to defend the broadcast. I would remind the DHNCA that the broadcast specifically refers to the campaign and not individuals. The official campaign is clear and unambiguous about its demand, which is for a vote on the final deal.
On the comment from Sally Magnusson on Reporting Scotland, there was no Holyrood vote on whether to hold another referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
On the multiple claims that No Deal and Hard Brexit are one and the same, I would submit the following from BBC political correspondent Eleanor Garnier, published on July 27th 2018, as further proof that this is not the case.
Hard Brexit has been defined repeatedly by other BBC reporters.
This image of a tweet from Nick Eardley makes clear that a Hard Brexit is the leaving of the Single Market and Customs Union and *not* a No Deal.