MEP slams BBC for “dereliction of duty” in failing to inform during EU referendum

Nathanael Williams

Alyn Smith expressed worries that politicians will continue to “pander” to the growing far right 

ALYN SMITH MEP has said that the BBC and wider media’s coverage of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU had a negative impact on how the European Union (EU) was seen. 

The SNP member of the European Parliament (MEP), made the remarks during a panel discussion for Deutsche Welle news in Brussels on Wednesday alongside Monika Holmheimer of the Christian Social Union Party (CSU) in Germany, Professor Peter Balasz who is the Hungarian minister for foreign affairs and senior political journalist Barbara Wesel.

The contender for deputy leadership of the SNP also took the occassion to warn of the rise of the populist right across Europe and the danger of centrist politicians pandering to their demands.

He expressed pride in the fact that Scotland had taken in a third of the refugees allotted to the UK since an agreement had been reached and spoke on how politicians can resist the rise of rightwing populism across Europe.

 "You cannot 'out-Front National' Front National, they are better at it." Alyn Smith

During the discussion the MEP who is also running for the SNP depute position, said: "If the public is not informed it cannot make proper decisions."

He said that it was clear that "the BBC had a dereliction of duty" during the European Union (EU) referendum in June, which ended in the UK voting to leave as a whole but Scotland voting to stay. 

For Smyth the tone of the debate dominated by immigration, freedom of movement and benefits was the result of an ongoing process of misinformation by the media and the political class which came to fruition in the vote to leave the EU this summer.

Smythe said: "What we saw in the UK was the inheritance of 40 years of lack of engagement."

Alyn Smythe appeared on a panel discussion concerning the future of the EU after Brexit

Addressing the issue of far right extremism, Smyth said that it was a problem across the whole of Europe and he lamented the tendency of politicians from the centre making policy moves to appeal to voters based on prejudice.

He made reference to the political situation in France as a warning for all of Europe.

He said: "We must be careful. The moment mainstream politics pander to the far-right, things get dangerous.

"You cannot 'out-Front National' the Front National, they are better at it."

Smyth also expressed pride in the contribution Scotland has made in trying to find solutions to the refugee crisis and how the Scottish government has lived up to its European obligations.

The Scottish local authorities participated in the Home Office’s Syrian vulnerable person resettlement (SVPR) scheme last year aiming to settle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK by 2020 and prioritise the most vulnerable.

The refugees have been given five years’ humanitarian protection status, permission to work and access to public funds. 

The Scottish Government this month celebrated receiving 1,000 Syrian refugees and Smyth told the audience he was “proud” Scotland has so far taken a third of all the refugees to come to the UK under the scheme.

Picture courtesy of Mayer Schwayder, DW 

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