A scheduled vote in the U.K. Parliament on “Brexit” has just been postponed, adding to the national angst over the still-pending withdrawal by the United Kingdom from the European Union, which was approved by the voters in a June 2016 referendum and has been a source of bitter political fighting, and smug liberal media opposition, ever since.
The New York Times has spent the intervening period mocking the majority of British people who voted for withdrawal in smug and juvenile terms, when it wasn’t actually blaming Brexit for violence and hate crimes.
In Monday’s edition, Benjamin Mueller and Ellen Barry revealed their sympathies through slanted labeling: “Britons on Both Sides of Brexit Take to London’s Streets in Dueling Protests” (click “expand”):
Protesters from Britain’s right and left took to the streets on Sunday, offering starkly different visions of the country’s future as the government scrambled to salvage its unpopular plan for exiting the European Union.
In a march led by the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson, thousands waved the Union Jack and chanted, “We want Britain out.” Many waved signs accusing Prime Minister Theresa May of treachery, and one man carried a 10-foot noose, telling a reporter, “That’s what the traitor May deserves.”
A couple of miles away, left-wing organizers gathered for a competing march to counter the far-right rhetoric. Carrying placards that said, “Stand Up to Racism,” Brexit supporters and opponents alike warned that Mr. Robinson was trying to co-opt the economic grievances of austerity-hit Britain.
The grievances that fueled the Brexit vote are simmering once more. Disappointment may well inject new energy into the far right, said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London.
Already, the party has begun a drift toward the political edges, appointing Mr. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, as an official adviser.
That has spurred resignations from the party and prompted fears that the far right, already emboldened by the referendum result, would capitalize on frustrations with Mrs. May’s deal....
While the “far right” was shown as uniformly frightening, the left was a harmless hodge-podge that didn’t get any scary “far left” labeling:
The left-wing activists marching on Sunday were a heterodox group of pro- and anti-Europeans, many drawn by their ties to workers’ unions, others by their activism against racism or for the rights of Palestinians.
“Rights of Palestinians” is often a benign cover for anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic beliefs, but Barry didn’t inquire further. She took the leftists at their word on their march motivations.
Barry, who works for a paper that acted terrified when then-candidate Trump hypothetically raised the possibility of not respecting the 2016 election results, was quite cavalier about overturning a vote inconvenient to the left: “Luciana Berger, a Labour member of Parliament from Liverpool, made the case to the crowd on Sunday that the two million Britons who had reached voting age in the two years since a referendum deserved a vote.”
Barry made the same page on Monday with “As Brexit Vote Nears, May Asks a Polarized Nation to Allow Compromise.” The text box revealed the labeling disparity right off: “A plan earns grumbles from hard-liners and ‘remain’ voters alike.” The thrust was clear: May made a mistake by trying to actually fulfill the wishes of the voters and make a clean break with the European Union:
If Mrs. May’s appeal for compromise has rung hollow, it is due in part to her own choices.
As she negotiated Britain’s departure from the European Union, she was secretive about her intentions, like a poker player holding her cards to her chest. Early on, she expended vast reserves of energy reassuring the hard-line faction of her party that she was on their side, declaring boldly that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”
The compulsive labeling pattern continued:
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative lawmaker, is among those who have taken a hard line on Britain’s departure from the European Union....She followed this up by articulating a series of “red lines,” promising to exit the customs union, single market and European Court of Justice. These promises would box her in, glossing over the fact that leaving the customs union would require establishing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But they kept her hard-line critics on board.....With the publication of her withdrawal agreement, Mrs. May ended her fence-sitting -- and enraged the hard-Brexit faction.
She also sounded more sympathetic to the left: “Her critics on the left say she wasted precious time soothing hard-line supporters of Brexit.”