Dumbing down at the BBC is harming our democracy and this can't continue into the election - Ros Snowdon

The Treasury has no plans to scrutinise Boris Johnson's plans
The Treasury has no plans to scrutinise Boris Johnson's plans
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On BBC Breakfast on Wednesday morning two prominent politicians made reference to the troubling news that Boris Johnson's Brexit deal will leave the UK £70bn worse off than if it had remained in the EU.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and ousted Tory MP Antoinette Sandbach both mentioned the study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) think tank. Neither BBC presenter picked up on this or talked about it. It was a case of "move along, nothing to see here".

Boris Johnson at PMQs

Boris Johnson at PMQs

What has become of British journalism when a story of this much import gets brushed under the carpet?

Surely we should be talking about it, but no mention was made of it between 7am and 8.15am, when I stayed glued to my TV to find out more.

Admittedly, the BBC website (which seems to have a far better sense of decent journalism than the broadcasting arm of the BBC) ran the story at 8am, but this is shocking.

So much of the Brexit debate has been a case of smokescreen, outright lies and poor editorial decisions. People have a right to know the economic predictions before they vote in the December General Election.

Labour frontbenchers Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn

Labour frontbenchers Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn

According to independent think tank NIESR, which the BBC website described as a respected body, the British economy will be 3.5 per cent smaller in 10 years' time under Mr Johnson's deal compared with staying in the EU.

The researchers worked on the basis that the UK will leave the bloc with a free trade agreement with the EU after a transition lasting up to 2021 while negotiating new deals with other nations.

The NIESR also suggested a no-deal Brexit would cause an even greater loss to the economy, with a 5.6 per cent blow to GDP.

It added that the economy is already estimated to be 2.5 per cent smaller than it would have been without the UK having voted to Leave in the 2016 referendum.

However, the Treasury defended Mr Johnson's proposals and said a "more ambitious" trade deal would be brokered with the EU than under the NIESR findings.

So the Treasury is going to do its own assessment so we can tell who is right? Oh no, no need for that, according to Chancellor Sajid Javid.

Mr Javid said the Brexit deal negotiated by the Prime Minister is “self-evidently” in the interest of Britain’s economy.

“My starting point is that agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement is self-evidently in our economic interest,” Mr Javid wrote in a letter responding to a parliamentary committee’s request for an economic analysis of Mr Johnson’s deal.

Oh, so that's ok then. Move along, nothing to see here.

What dystopian world are we living in when it's absolutely fine for the Treasury to make no effort to back up its claims? We are now living in the world of doublespeak. George Orwell would have named his book "2019" instead of "1984" if he were alive today.

It will come as little surprise to regular readers that I'm a strong Remainer. Today I've been asked what I think will happen.

The polls point to a 58 seat Tory majority, but I think this will change as analysts and economists blast through the fog of lies and mistrust of "experts".

Personally, my best case scenario would be for Labour to take charge of a minority Government. Jeremy Corbyn will lose seats at this election and should finally retire to his allotment so someone more capable - maybe Keir Starmer or Emily Thornberry - can take over the helm.

This Labour minority Government would be reined in by the support of Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid and Green MP partners and we could have a confirmatory referendum to find out just what people want now they have access to the facts.

The Labour Party's more lunatic ideas - raising corporation tax from 19p to 26p in the pound, abolishing private schools, huge borrowing plans and a four-day week - would be binned in this minority Government.

Those of us who want to stop Mr Johnson's plans need to vote tactically. The in-fighting among Remain MPs is a disgrace. We are all on the same side.

Fortunately there are campaigners out there, from Gina Miller to Femi Oluwole and bodies like Best for Britain and the People's Vote, who are planning to provide the advice we need to do this.

To be honest, I think I have more faith in Ms Miller and Mr Oluwole. Best for Britain has no guidance for Scotland as it claims "the leading parties in all Scotland's seats are pro-European". The Tories have 13 seats in Scotland and no way are they pro-EU. Maybe Best for Britain didn't have time to get round to Scotland.

Meanwhile, the People's Vote has decided to implode just days before the General Election was called.

I've been told, why bother in Yorkshire, the North will vote Tory or Brexit, but this simply isn't the case. The European elections earlier this year returned a Yorkshire Lib Dem MEP and well known Yorkshire Green MEP, Magid Magid.

Meanwhile we have some excellent Remain leaning Yorkshire Labour MPs: Hilary Benn, who secured this latest extension to prevent no-deal, Yvette Cooper and Ed Miliband.

They will play an important role in a minority Labour Government.

The Tories have made no attempt to quantify just how much worse off we will be under Mr Johnson's Brexit plans. Some claim it doesn't matter, we will have regained "sovereignty". Try telling people that when they lose their jobs.

If we are to progress, we need to recognise that a healthy democracy can only thrive when its citizens are well-informed. The BBC has a public duty to do this.

Maybe, just maybe, there is hope yet for our country, but that will only happen if we bin Mr Johnson's terrible plans and vote tactically.