The BBC is harming the UK’s reputation by portraying it as a “xenophobic” nation regretting its vote to leave the European Union (EU), 72 MPs from across the political spectrum have claimed.
Writing to Lord Hall, the director-general of the BBC, the politicians said the BBC’s Brexit coverage was biased, “pessimistic and skewed”, and had downplayed much of the positive economic news since the June referendum.
The MPs who signed the letter include 60 Conservative MPs, three Labour MPs, eight DUP MPs, and Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only MP.
“BBC bias can have a substantial effect on national debate. We fear that, by misrepresenting our country either as xenophobic or regretful of the Leave vote, the BBC will undermine our efforts to carve out a new, global role for this country,” the MPs wrote.
“In particular, 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 continued.
“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.”
On the economy, they add: “It particularly pains us to see how so much of the economic good news we’ve had since June has been skewed by BBC coverage which seems unable to break out of pre-referendum pessimism and accept new facts.
“Some of the signatories of this letter shared many of the concerns about the economic impact of Brexit, but all are delighted to find forecasts of immediate economic harm were at best misplaced. So-called ‘despite Brexit’ reporting may be expected of a partisan press, but licence fee-payers have the right to expect better.”
The BBC responded to the claims, telling The Telegraph they recognised no fault on their behalf and always “hold politicians to account across the political spectrum”.
“It is precisely because of this, that the public trusts the BBC,” the spokesman added.
This is the second time MPs have written to Lord Hall about the BBC’s allegedly bias Brexit coverage in just six months.
In October last year, MPs intervened after research by News Watch revealed listeners to BBC Radio 4 were two and a half times more likely to hear the opinions of a pro-EU speaker than anti-EU guests, despite the referendum result.
News Watch’s report noted: “There were no attempts in any programme to explore the benefits of leaving the EU, but conversely, Brexit came under sustained negative attack.”