Macer Hall's article began:
Fury erupted last night after a European Union plot to “carve up Britain” by setting up a cross-Channel region was exposed.
The Express implied that this 'plot' was something new (albeit, as Roy Greenslade pointed out, slightly less new than when a similar story appeared in the Mail two days before). Yet mid-way through the article, after the inevitable quotes from UKIP and the TaxPayers' Alliance, Hall admitted:
Arc Manche was formally launched six years ago to forge closer links between local councils in southern English counties with their counterparts in northern France.
In fact, the Arc Manche network has been around since 1995.
So the Express eventually stated it's about 'forging closer links between councils' rather than a 'plot' to 'merge UK with France'. But how many Express readers will read - and believe - that after the screaming headline?
The EU's Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has written to the Express to clarify the position:
We are as surprised as your readers to hear that your newspaper believes the EU wishes to merge Britain and France. The suggestion that the “EU wants to merge UK with France”, 2nd May, is absurd, and of course, untrue.
There is no proposal to create a new cross-channel region. What exist (and have done for 10 years) are a number of cross-border programmes aimed at things like boosting jobs and looking after the environment.
A similar note was also sent to the Daily Star, who ran a similar article under the ludicrous headline 'Clowns plan to turn us French'.
Today, the Express was at it again, claiming on the front page:
'Now we must fly the EU flag on our public buildings'. Really?
It's Macer Hall again:
Scores of public buildings around the country are being ordered to fly the blue-and-gold European Union flag to mark the occasion next Monday.
Officials will be expected to ensure the flag remains hoisted for a week, with a swingeing fine from Brussels threatened for those that disobey.
The Daily Star's version claimed:
Eurocrats were last night facing a revolt over a bid to force Britain to celebrate “Europe Day” next week.
Scores of public buildings are being ordered to fly the European Union flag to mark the occasion.
Officials will be expected to ensure it remains hoisted for a week from Monday. And those that disobey could be fined.
Or not, according to a letter sent to the Express from Jonathan Scheele, Head of European Commission Representation in the UK and Michael Shackleton, Head of European Parliament Information Office in the UK:
Regarding your front page of today, only 2 buildings in the UK are expected to fly the European flag for Europe Day and the Commission would not fine countries that did not do so. The rules that make this provision were passed in 2006 by all EU countries, including the UK. No other public building has to fly the flag on 9 May though some may choose to do so. Some schools want to do something to mark the day and ask us for ideas. We send these purely on demand and they in no way constitute “instructions”.
According to them the Editor of the Express, Hugh Whittow, has refused to publish their letter, thus failing to give a right of reply to those his paper has accused. And, of course, there's no way of complaining to the PCC since Richard Desmond withdrew from the self-regulatory system.
So the Express' campaign against the EU continues.
In March, the paper ran a front page headline claiming 'Cars face ban from all cities...another plan forced on us by crazy EU'. As Minority Thought blogged at the time, it wasn't true. Now these two stories within a few days.
What will the paper falsely claim the EU has banned/forced on us next?