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The Prime Minister Theresa May has been likened to the media-hating US President Donald Trump for the third time just over a week after Downing Street took the unprecedented step of ‘banning’ journalists they disagree with from a series of government press events.
Yesterday, Theresa May was in Scotland on the first leg of her whistle stop tour to promote her near universally criticised proposed Brexit deal.
The Prime Minister’s PR visit took her to a factory owned by the Bridge of Weir Leather Company – an event which numerous Scottish media organisations were invited to cover.
However, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, The National, were banned from the event – marking the second time in two weeks that the Scottish media outlet has been barred from access to a press event with the British government.
The newspaper’s latest exclusion follows hot on the heels of Downing Street’s decision two weeks ago to also deny them the chance to question the de-facto Deputy Prime Minister David Lidington during his visit to Glasgow.
Following the news of The National’s latest exclusion emerging, Downing Street came in for heavy criticism from across the political spectrum, with Theresa May even being likened to Donald Trump – a comparison which referred to the US President’s decision to ban CNN journalist Jim Acosta from Presidential news conferences over a seemingly innocuous altercation earlier this month.
Daily Mail journalist Stephen Daisley suggested that the Prime Minister may be “deliberately” banning the newspaper from the press event simply because Downing Street did not agree with their editorial line, tweeting:
“If No. 10 is deliberately excluding
@ScotNational from press events, that is unacceptable. You don’t get to shut out a paper just because you don’t like its editorial line. I would expect @ScotTories to make this clear to their Downing St colleagues.”
If No. 10 is deliberately excluding @ScotNational from press events, that is unacceptable. You don’t get to shut out a paper just because you don’t like its editorial line. I would expect @ScotTories to make this clear to their Downing St colleagues. https://t.co/ubTUAB12uq
— Stephen Daisley (@JournoStephen) November 28, 2018
Whilst SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse tweeted to say the PM was running “feart“, stating:
“The Prime Minister is scared of coming up against anyone that can publicly unravel her poorly constructed Brexit proposal that will damage Scotland’s economy & again treat fishing industry as expendable.
“She is also too feart to debate staying in SM/CU with our First Minister.”
And Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine, who was also a journalist prior to becoming an MP, was also excoriating of the government’s actions, stating:
“We all know that there are times when events have to be ‘pooled’, but that’s not the case here and for the PM’s team to leave themselves open to this sort of criticism is incompetent.
“Surely when the country is facing the most important decision for generations the Government should want to ensure not only the widest and best coverage, but not allow anything to distract from the issue.
“Brexit is going to have a disastrous effect on the UK’s economy. There is no use in Theresa May defending her deal to an audience of her own picking. Just like it’s not worth her holding a debate on the deal if she isn’t going to allow the Liberal Democrats to present the case for a people’s vote and a chance to exit from Brexit.
“This allows the claim that journalists are being excluded, a tactic previously deployed by Trump and Alex Salmond. That is not acceptable.”
And today The National responded in astonishing fashion, publishing a front page stating the newspaper’s outright refusal to cover the event in light of Downing Street’s apparent ban:
Tomorrow's front page: This is where we would have reported on Theresa May's visit to Scotland. We were barred from her press conference with the other newspapers, so we have refused to cover it. pic.twitter.com/vKyWcYrZr5
— The National (@ScotNational) November 28, 2018
And The National’s coverage inside the paper was just as scathing:
And here’s our inside coverage of the event. pic.twitter.com/sYLQ9u4Mhh
— The National (@ScotNational) November 28, 2018
The No. 10 Press Office said that The National had been excluded from yesterday’s press event over “limited capacity“, with the Cabinet Office also attempting to claim that The National was not on the government’s Mailing list.
However, The National responded by stating that their paper “has frequently taken part in press events with the Prime Minister and other senior Tories“, and also refuted claims that they were not a member of the No. 10 mailing list.
Downing Street reportedly refused to comment any further on the matter.