ANALYSIS: Sky News Is Skewing The EU Referendum Debate By Consistently Referring to ‘Europe’ Not The EU


A Breitbart London analysis has revealed that while Britain’s television broadcasters should be careful in differentiating between Europe as a continent and the European Union (EU) as the date to the referendum draws closer, Sky News seems intent on blurring the lines and implying a vote to leave the EU will in fact somehow propel Britain’s landmass off the continent.

In October the BBC stood accused of dishonesty in its reporting of the EU referendum, for using the word “Europe” in place of “European Union”.

While other broadcasters have tightened up on their terminology as the day of the referendum draws closer, presenters on Sky News seem in no hurry to use the correct, less biased terminology.

Analysis of a cross-section of news and reporting from various radio and television channels’ major news broadcasts and current affairs programmes relating to the EU referendum on one day – April 19 – reveals that while the Telegraph reported that “private polling suggests that the phrase European Union is toxic to voters,” some pro-EU figures have been making sure to use Europe instead of EU.

Stuart Rose, launching the ‘Remain’ campaign, repeatedly referred to “Europe” in his address whilst pro-EU campaigner and former Conservative MP Laura Sandys wrote an email calling on supporters to “always talk about Europe rather than EU”.

One Sky News EU referendum special saw Dominic Waghorn visit a German town twinned with Clacton-on-Sea, Britain’s “most Eurosceptic” area. The reporter says the two places “could not be more different” as Biberach is a prosperous, “bastion of Europhilia.” Noting the German town is home to Europe’s biggest crane company and car firms like BMW, Waghorn opined: “you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody” who thinks leaving the European Union is a good idea.

But he neglected to mention what most experts and commentators have warned for years, that the Eurozone is built for Germany’s success “at the expense of its weaker neighbours” and instead describes Biberach as a “thriving, inland market town staunchly in favour of Europe”. Not only does reporting in this way blur the line between Europe and the EU but it also gives the impression that the EU creates prosperity for all. Unfortunately Clacton is not twinned with any towns in Southern Europe, many of which have been destroyed by the Eurozone, for Waghorn to visit.

Throughout the clip, which plays for just under five minutes, the reporter persists in using the Remain campaign-friendly “Europe” to refer to the political union.

From a busy beer garden where Germans are enjoying a live brass band, not a refugee in sight, Mr. Waghorn joins a party celebrating an upcoming wedding and asks “what they made of Britain’s possible divorce from Europe.”

Joining a group of British expats living Biberach the reporter announces that there’s a “very different mindset here about Europe and its problems” and asks the group why Germans “view Europe so differently”.

“Europe protects against conflict in the future” he asserted, introducing a man who wants “Europe to come together even closer”. His final words in the video are that Britain is threatening to “part ways with Europe”. In all of these cases the Sky correspondent is referring to the European Union.

Given that every German (and English expat) Mr Waghorn speaks to in the piece says Europe when referring to the European Union, it’s possible spending time with them has marred his judgement on the issue but, on the same day, other Sky News presenters were doing likewise.

Whether the reporter was Kay Burley, Faisal Islam, or Anna Botting and others, phrases such as “In favour of Europe”, “what it would cost to leave Europe”, “had enough of Europe”, all of which refer to the European Union rather than the continent, were commonplace.

Writing to the BBC Trust and Ofcom last October, UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage wrote: “In recent weeks and months it has become normal for many correspondents to use ‘Europe’ as shorthand for ‘the European Union’.

“To do so is inaccurate, and suggestive of a general dislike of our continental allies, when what Eurosceptics oppose is membership of a supranational political organisation, not fellow continental European nation states.

“It has been widely reported that those campaigning to remain in the European Union are deliberately replacing the name of the organisation with the term ‘Europe’ for this very reason, and by doing the same, correspondents are inadvertently playing into the deliberate, dishonest framing of the debate.

“We call upon the BBC and other news outlets to therefore ensure that the debate is framed accurately.”

UPDATE – A Sky News spokesman told Breitbart London: “Every Sky News story, interview or debate about the Referendum is captioned “EU: IN OR OUT?” on screen, making it very clear that we’re talking about the European Union.    We have a comprehensive set of guidelines on the EU Referendum which all our journalists adhere to. We are aware of our responsibilities to be fair in our coverage which will  continue to be balanced, analytical and entirely impartial.”

Breitbart London chose Sky’s April 19th coverage to analyse given their promotion of the “live from Clacton” event – and analysed 420 minutes of content from the BBC, Sky, Channel 4, and ITV