Comments from the EU’s Brexit Coordinator, giving backing to the Scottish Goverment over its Single Market and Customs Union proposals for the UK, have been airbrushed out of BBC Scotland’s flagship news programme.
Guy Verhofstadt was appearing in front of the Home Affairs Committee in the House of Commons when he was asked by MP Joanna Cherry whether he agreed with the Scottish government’s proposals for the UK to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union.
Responding, Mr Verhofstadt replied: “I think there is no opposition from the European side if that proposal comes to Brussells.”
Asked if it would solve the Northern Irish border issue, the EU official said: “Exactly”
The significance of the exchange prompted a tweet from BBC Scotland reporter Nick Eardley, which read: “Guy Verhofstadt at Brexit committee says no opposition to @ScotGov single market membership proposals on European side (Of course the big issue is the lack of support domestically…)
The comment on UK Single Market & Customs Union membership was not the only significant comment made by Mr Verhofstadt. Later in proceedings he surprised Scottish Conservative MP Douglas Ross who asked the EU official if an independent Scotland could rejoin the European Union without any major obstacles. Responding, Verhofstadt said: “That’s a fact, it’s a simple fact.”
That too prompted a tweet from Nick Eardley, highlighting the significance of the comment which had left Tory MP Ross a little red faced. Eardley tweeted: “More from @guyverhofstadt, this time at Home Affairs Committee. Asked by @Douglas4Moray if he thinks indy Scotland could get into EU with no big obstacles, says : “That’s a simple fact” (doesn’t elaborate further)”
However when BBC Scotland’s flagship news programme Reporting Scotland aired that evening, there was no mention of Verhofstadt’s comments, despite Eardley himself taking part in a live feed from London. Viewers instead were told of the SNP’s opposition to a Donald Trump visit and analysis of the EU Withdrawal Bill vote, won by the Tory government.
The programme did though contain an item relating to Scottish farming after Brexit and proposals brought forward by Scottish government minister Fergus Ewing. The item included an attack on the Scottish government by Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron.
The refusal to report Guy Verhofstadt’s comments in support of the Scottish government over Brexit is not the first time such a blackout has been imposed by Reporting Scotland. In May the programme employed a similar blackout when Jeremy Corbyn visited Scotland to deliver a speech on Royal Navy shipbuilding contracts.
During the visit the Labour leader was asked about the dispute between the UK and Scottish governments over the seizing of devolved powers by Westminster. Mr Corbyn came down on the side of the Scottish government.
He said: “I’m very happy that the Scottish Labour party will be voting against [the bill] because frankly there is a power grab going on by Whitehall on the EU withdrawal. What they’re doing is taking powers from Brussels that ought to go to Scotland, Wales and the regions and instead pooling them in Whitehall. That is unacceptable to us.”
The visit featured on that evening’s Reporting Scotland. However the programme made no mention of Mr Corbyn’s backing for the Scottish government’s Power Grab stance.
As with the comments from Guy Verhofstadt, the refusal of Reporting Scotland to cover the Corbyn intervention came despite BBC Scotland’s Westminster Correspondent Nick Eardley considering it significant enough to highlight in a tweet.
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