Sunday 17 December 2017

Ex-spin doctor Alastair Campbell attacks pro-Brexit press for 'fresh depths of dishonesty'

UK Prime Minister David Cameron
UK Prime Minister David Cameron

Sam Lister

Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell has attacked newspapers that support Britain quitting the EU for plumbing "fresh depths of dishonesty".

Tony Blair's ex-director of communications said "the wretched right-wing press" was becoming little more than "propaganda sheets".

In an article for the Observer, he also dismissed reports that the Queen backed Brexit as a "load of c**k".

"More than in any such debate I can remember, large chunks of the press have totally given up on the role of properly informing public debate," he wrote.

Alastair Campbell
Alastair Campbell

"The Mail, the Sun, the Express, and the Star in particular, to a lesser extent the Telegraph and, on a bad day, the Times, are more propaganda sheets for one side of the argument."

Justice Secretary Michael Gove is facing continued pressure over claims he was a source for reported comments made by the Queen on the EU.

During a Brexit campaign visit on Saturday he refused to deny being involved and told reporters he did not know where The Sun got "all" of its information.

Read more: Brexit: 'I was here till 5 o'clock this morning' - David Cameron said there's still 'no deal' on EU reforms after all-night talks

Buckingham Palace has lodged a formal complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) about the report, which appeared under the headline Queen Backs Brexit.

"I don't know how The Sun got all of its information," Mr Gove said.

Ken Clarke said Brexit could pose enormous problems for Ireland
Ken Clarke said Brexit could pose enormous problems for Ireland

Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames said Mr Gove "will know the right thing to do" if he had made a misjudgment.

He told the Mail on Sunday: "Michael is a man of the highest integrity, and if on this occasion he has made a terrible misjudgment, I am sure he will know the right thing to do."

Courtiers are reportedly stepping in to prevent the Queen being pulled back into the EU referendum campaign.

A Whitehall official with links to the Palace and No 10 told The Sunday Times: "There's a concern and a need to draw the Queen back out of the political space."

Meanwhile US president Barack Obama is set intervene again in the referendum debate during a visit to Britain next month, according to the Independent on Sunday.

Downing Street said no visit had been announced and it would not comment on "speculation".

Read more: Brexit: Scotland to declare independence if Britain votes to leave EU, says Nicola Sturgeon

The shadow chancellor has insisted his party will be "on the stomp" campaigning to remain in the EU after his party was accused of lacking enthusiasm in the debate.

John McDonnell also denied that he was against the EU or voting tactically when challenged by Andrew Marr over his Euroscepticism.

Speaking on the BBC One show, he said: "It is a matter of principle that we need to solve these global problems facing us like climate change, like migration, like world instability. We need to do that through international cooperation. The EU gives us that opportunity but it does need reform.

"I'll be on the stomp after this week, you'll see our campaign... you'll see Jeremy Corbyn and me and the rest of the Labour Cabinet on the stomp around the country arguing for our Europe, a people's Europe."

He said the Labour party has been working with socialist parties across Europe to put together an "alternative agenda" for Europe based on shared prosperity.

"We're meeting with on a regular basis our socialist and social democratic parties across Europe because we're going to present an alternative agenda," he said.

"After this budget is out of the way, I'll be going on the stomp around the country arguing for an alternative agenda and it will be about reform from within and reform on the basis of ensuring again that we have prosperity across Europe shared by all."

Press Association

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