British press caught in the heat of political debate over Brexit

Historically committed and partisan, British newspapers are now being attacked by supporters of an exit from the European Union.

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The impartiality of the BBC is severely tested in Brexit times. NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP


Not easy to be a journalist in Brexit country. Manchester, September 30th. Second day of the Conservative Party's annual convention. The day is coming to an end. In a packed room, prominent "brexiters" – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Minister of Parliamentary Relations, MPs Steve Baker and Andrea Jenkyns – say all the good they think of a UK "Liberated" of the European Union (EU).

In attendance, a North Irish curator picks up the microphone and says: "We're tired of this leftist press, the BBC, the Guardian and all that ! " The audience approves loudly. Mme Jenkyns, formidable speaker, adds: "I really have enough of it! Why do not these media explain how much a government led by Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the left) would be devastating for the country? ! "

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Aubrey Allegretti of Sky News (not really left), who lit the wick, his body defending. The political journalist, however, just did his job and asked Mr. Baker "Who he spoke to, when he said that everyone should moderate his language," and if he would vote for a divorce agreement with Brussels. Obviously, many in the room had to think of Boris Johnson, whose propensity to qualify as "Treason" the successful attempt by the "remainers" to block a "no deal" in the House of Commons has created controversy. Aubrey Allegretti tweeted in the wake of Mr. Baker's answer, who took it badly and sent it to him.

"It's often like that"

"It's often like that," sighs the young man at the end of the conference, a little shaken, while the press secretary of Jacob Rees-Mogg just drag him a few words of comfort. "Opinions are so polarized," she apologizes. It is difficult to keep calm, as remainers and brexiters engage in a real trench warfare, and spirits in both camps are hysterified by three years of futile debate over Brexit.

A journalist from Daily Mirror (tabloid left) was the same booing a few hours earlier, following a question about violence in politics at a conference of the Bruges Group, a think tank of hard brexiters. Again, MPs John Redwood and Mark Francois fired on the BBC and the Guardian.


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