LONDON — The BBC risks “undermining” Brexit by failing in its duty to be impartial, a group of 72 MPs claimed in a letter to senior BBC figures seen by the Guardian.
The letter, signed by 60 Tory MPs and a small number from other parties, accused the broadcaster of “misrepresenting our country either as xenophobic or regretful of the Leave vote,” which could “undermine our efforts to carve out a new, global role for this country.”
The letter did not detail any specific examples of the alleged bias, and a BBC source told the Guardian that the broadcaster had “included a balanced range of voices from across the political spectrum and on both sides of the debate” when covering the referendum.
The letter said: “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.”
“It particularly pains us to see how 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.”
It particularly pains us to see how much of the economic good news we’ve had since June has been skewed by BBC coverage
The MPs also suggested that the broadcaster’s future might be in jeopardy if it is not considered neutral.
“If politicians and the public don’t view it as an impartial broker, then the future of the BBC will be in doubt,” said the letter.
It was addressed to BBC director general Tony Hall, and the incoming chair of its new governing body, David Clementi, and written by the Tory MP and former BBC journalist Julian Knight, who backed Remain.
Signatories include several former Tory cabinet ministers, including Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson, and Theresa Villiers, who all backed Leave.
A BBC spokesperson told the Guardian: “While we are always live to our critics and understand that passions are running high on all sides of the debate, it is the job of the BBC to scrutinise and analyse the issues on behalf of the public and to hold politicians to account across the political spectrum.
“That is what the BBC has been doing. It is what the BBC will continue to do. It is precisely because of this that the public trusts the BBC.”
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