Tuesday, 21 March 2017

BBC's Brexit coverage pessimistic and skewed, say MPs

A group of 72 MPs have written to the BBC accusing it of being pessimistic and skewed in its Brexit coverage - in the months since the vote on the EU.

In a letter to the director general, they said the BBC is "unfairly representing" Leave voters by focusing on those who regret their decision.

The MPs warned the future of the BBC "will be in doubt" if it is not seen as a impartial broker.

The BBC said it was its job to "scrutinise and analyse" Brexit issues.

The letter was organised by Conservative MP Julian Knight, a former BBC journalist who backed Remain but says that has not stopped him disagreeing with the stance of the coverage.
It was signed by 60 other Tories including Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villiers.

Two Conservative peers, three Labour MPs, eight DUP MPs, two DUP peers and UKIP's only MP, Douglas Carswell, also added their names.

They said the BBC's inability to break out of "pre-referendum pessimism" and to accept new facts was skewing its coverage of Brexit.

"If politicians and the public don't view it as an impartial broker, then the future of the BBC will be in doubt," the letter stated.

It said many Leave-voting constituencies have felt their views have been unfairly represented by the BBC.

"This phenomenon is weakening the BBC's bond with the 52% who voted Leave and all who wish to make a success of the decision made," it added.

MPs also claimed the BBC had "skewed" good economic news since the referendum and "licence fee-payers have the right to expect better".

The letter, which was also copied to the incoming chair of the BBC Board Sir David Clementi, did not include any specific examples.