At least 70 MPs from a number of political parties have written to the director-general of the BBC – Lord Hall – with accusations the public service broadcaster is unwilling to snap out of its “pre-referendum pessimism” and “accept new facts”.
The complaint was signed by 60 Conservative MPs, including former cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villers, two Tory peers, three Labour MPs, eight DUP MPs, two DUP peers and Ukip’s only MP Douglas Carswell.
Many Leave-voting constituencies have felt their views have been unfairly represented
It comes after months of swelling Tory disillusionment regarding the BBC’s coverage following the vote to leave the crumbling Brussels bloc.
The letter added the BBC has become “partisan” and has fallen “far short” of providing balanced coverage – and issued a veiled threat “if politicians and the public don’t view it as an impartial broker, then the future of the BBC will be in doubt”.
The complaint added: “We know many Leave-voting constituencies have felt their views have been unfairly represented.
“This phenomenon is weakening the BBC’s bond with the 52 per cent who voted Leave and all who wish to make a success of the decision made.
“The BBC has a much larger market share than any newspaper – it runs the most-used news website in the country, on top of its television and radio coverage.”
Those angered by the BBC also moaned the BBC had misrepresented positive economic news with “‘despite Brexit’ reporting… expected of a partisan press”.
It continued: “This, as well as viewers’ belief in its neutrality, means that BBC bias can have a substantial effect on the national debate.
“BBC coverage also shapes international perceptions of the UK: 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.
“We are therefore asking you to take steps to correct these flaws in the BBC’s coverage of our EU exit at the earliest moment.”
Journalist-turned-MP Julian Knight, who helped organise the letter, said: “The next two years present the biggest journalistic challenge to the BBC of our lifetimes and it simply has to get this right.
“I am really worried that if it continues to go down the road it has been it will alienate itself from 52 per cent of the voting public and many of those like me who wanted remain but accept the decision and just want what is best for our country.”
A BBC spokewoman said: “The BBC is covering the political and financial events following the referendum vote in a responsible and impartial way. The BBC is also one of the great exports of this country and makes a significant contribution to the UK creative sector.”