The BBC has been sharply criticised, and had its funding called into question, after it broadcast a pro-EU mockumentary depicting a dystopian future after Britain has left the European Union, with rioting and the far-right dominating the continent and Islamic State on the verge of occupying Vienna.
Echoing Channel 4’s controversial ‘UKIP: the First 100 Days’, the programme also features Nigel Farage as Prime Minister of “Great England”, who has launched a policy of deporting all immigrants who arrived in the country in the past 10 years.
‘The Great European Disaster’ was made by former Economist editor Bill Emmott and Italian journalist Annalisa Piras. Particularly controversial was the decision to compare life after the EU with life in post-war Europe, with footage depicting concentration camps and devastated cities.
The broadcast drew an angry response from UKIP, who pointed out the that the BBC had received over £22m of funding over the past seven years. The party’s financial affairs spokesman Steven Woolfe said:
“BBC bias in favour of the EU ‘project’ has been obvious for years. However, figures on the Financial Transparency website of the European Commission now indicate just how deeply the BBC benefits from the goodwill of the EU elite. Between 2007 and 2013 the BBC was paid more than £22m by the European Union.”
The programme also depicted a power crisis in Germany, the new president of France – Marine Le Pen – calling a state of emergency, looters in Rome and fighting in Vienna as Islamic State advances through the Balkans.
It also adopts a pro-immigration tone, with Bill Emmott saying that although it imposes financial burdens on member states it still creates the resources needed for a welfare state.
Commentator Peter Hitchens, who was invited to take part in a post-programme discussion, wrote in the Mail:
“I’m very happy for Bill Emmott to make as many films as he likes for the BBC about the wonders of the EU.
“The trouble is, you cannot imagine the Corporation giving anyone the chance to make a film about how miserable it will be if Britain stays in, and how good it will be if we leave.
“For this programme is blatant propaganda. And the only cause for joy is that it’s not very good propaganda.”
Conservative MEP Dan Hannan added: “This is typical of the pro-EU side. They make such ludicrous claims they make themselves look ridiculous.”
He also tweeted yesterday:
This evening, BBC4 will screen a mockumentary imagining the end of the EU. I think we all know what line it'll take. pic.twitter.com/WTu2CnZAgd
— Daniel Hannan (@DanHannanMEP) March 1, 2015
A BBC Spokesman said: “No EU money was used in the making of the programme being aired on the BBC. Impartiality is of paramount importance for the BBC.
“This fictional programme reflects the author’s vision. BBC editorial guidelines do not prevent the acquisition of independent programmes which approach subjects from a particular perspective.”