The BBC, the Financial Times and the Confederation for British Industry (CBI) have been guilty of a pro-euro bias, a report published by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has said.
Penned by Peter Oborne, chief political commentator at the Daily Telegraph, and writer Frances Weaver, the report analyses the euro debate since 2001.
It concludes that “mainstream British Institutions were subverted to serve the aspirations of the pro-euro camp”, while eurosceptics were marginalised, often through personal attacks.
The report, published on Friday, comes at a time of increased chaos in the eurozone, with the sovereign debt crisis threatening to not only undermine the single currency but the entire European project.
In “recalling the errors, falsehoods and libels uttered by the advocates of the single currency”, the report excoriates the “politicians and propagandists” in the euro debate.
The guilty include MPs Danny Alexander, Paddy Ashdown, Tony Blair, Ken Clarke, and Nick Clegg, and journalists David Aaronovitch, Oonagh Blackman, Diane Coyle, Andrew Gowers, Johann Hari, Will Hutton, Philip Stephens and Hugo Young.
The authors also claim the BBC ignored standards of neutrality, particularly around the reporting of the creation of the single currency in 2002. “Reasonable doubts about the euro were severely underplayed,” it says, arguing that the BBC sent out one message: “that the euro project would bring benefits and it was only a matter of time before the UK would join”.
The CBI and the Financial Times are also heavily criticised for allowing themselves to “become the propaganda arm for the pro-single currency movement.”
Sceptical voices were “rarely heard” in the pages of the FT, says the report, while successive heads of the CBI in the past decade spoke out against the dangers of euro-scepticism.
The report argues that this pro-euro stance was part of a “national pattern”, and had Britain joined the euro “as so many members of the political calls urged”, the country would have been unable to “confront the consequences of the 2008 financial crash”, while the European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fun (IMF) “would now be dictating British economic management”.
Praised within the pamphlet are those who warned of the dangers of the single currency, with William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith highlighted as exemplars of “extraordinary prescience and moral courage”. Hague, it argues, was painted as an “extremist”, while Duncan Smith a “hysterical fanatic”.
The report also argues for the historical rehabilitation of other prominent eurosceptics, including John Redwood and Sir John Major, the latter for insisting on “the opt-out for European Monetary Union”.
Called Guilty Men, the title is drawn from the book published in 1940 that criticised those who advocated appeasement in the build up to war.
In his forward, Peter Jay, former Economics Editor of The Times, Ambassador to the USA and Economics Editor of the BBC, said: “What no one would have predicted was that over the next half century and more Britain, mainly guided by its most solemn and sacred institutions, led all too often by its governing élite, would set about surrendering those very freedoms, that precise independence, bequeathed to us by the wisdom and courage of the past great leaders and by the fortitude and self-sacrifice of generations of our ordinary ancestors.”