The BBC is failing in its duty to be impartial over Brexit, a group of parliamentarians has claimed. In a letter to senior BBC figures, they said the broadcaster had characterised Britain as xenophobic and focused too much on regretful leave voters.
The 70-strong group, made up mainly of Conservative MPs and including former cabinet ministers, warned the BBC’s director general Tony Hall and the incoming chair of its new governing body, David Clementi, that the broadcaster’s future might be in jeopardy if it was not seen as neutral.
“The corporation’s focus on ‘regretful’ leave voters, despite there being no polling shift towards remain since the referendum, has led some to believe it is putting its preconceptions before the facts,” they wrote. “Meanwhile, the posturing and private opinions of EU figures are too often presented as facts, without the vital context that they are talking tough ahead of the exit negotiations.”
The 72 MPs and four peers added that “many leave-voting constituencies have felt that their views have been unfairly represented” by the BBC, an issue they said was “weakening the BBC’s bond with the 52% who voted leave and all who wish to make a success of the decision made”.
A BBC source dismissed the criticism, insisting that the broadcaster was impartial and saying it had “included a balanced range of voices from across the political spectrum and on both sides of the debate” when covering the referendum. “It is notable the letter is general in nature with no specific examples,” the source said.
Ahead of last June’s vote, BBC staff were issued with a series of guidelines designed to ensure balance across the broadcaster’s output during the formal campaign period.
Among the signatories to the letter were the former Tory leader and work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith, as well as the former environment secretary Owen Paterson and Northern Ireland secretary and transport minister, Theresa…