Commentator criticises media for focusing on Downing Street infighting over Brexit 'dystopia'

A picture of George Manbiot on Politics Live

The Guardian's George Manbiot on BBC 2's Politics Live - Credit: Twitter

The media's focus on infighting in Number 10 is a distraction from the Brexit armageddon facing the UK, a commentator has argued.

The Guardian's George Monbiot said British newspapers were prioritising 'scandal' over the Brexit negotiations.

He said: "Putting the resignation of a Downing Street adviser as top headline during a moment of multiple global and national crises is political reporting at its worst, it is court gossip masquerading as journalism.

"It doesn't make any difference anyway, their job is done. Lee Cain will resign at the end of this year and Dominic Cummings possibly the same having steered through the Brexit transition period almost certainly with no deal, which is certainly what they wanted.

"They will bequeath to us the deregulatory dystopia that they see as Nirvana so for them it's mission accomplished. Job done."

Monbiot's remarks came shortly after Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran disputed claims Cain's departure was nothing more than a "personnel change".

"When do personnel changes make front pages?" Moran pressed.

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"This may begin to explain what is going wrong because you're absolutely right - there has been a lack of clarity. We've seen it over and over again."

As chair of an all-party group on Covid-19, Moran said she had witnessed first-hand people question the government's coronavirus strategy.

"[People] are saying we don't know what the strategy is from this government and it feels as if they're making it up as they go along and you wonder why this is happening.

"Then you look across at the front pages and you see that not all was well. They're not all getting on and you need effective government right now."

She added: "All the way through this, I have wanted the government to do better but here we are, in our second lockdown, still [there is] confusion.

"What we want to see is a government pull together and I'm sorry but Boris Johnson is a bit diminished today because it shows that he is a puppet in someone else's play."

Tory MP Damian Hinds defended the government, saying: "I'm not going to claim that we've done everything right, including on aspects of communications but I do see it in the context of the times we've been going through.

"Right now what we need to focus on is continuing these vital public health messages to come down on this virus."

Jonathan Brown tweeted: "I don't think anyone wanted a no-deal Brexit. What was expected was, all the benefits with none of the costs, that the EU would concede. That was always a false premise - English exceptionalism at its most appalling."

Vincenzo Re tweeted: "I think we can agree that >50,000 covid-related deaths (>70,000 excess deaths by ONS) has not 'gone exactly right'. I think we can say that this level of mortality was not inevitable so something has gone seriously wrong. #ToryShambles."

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