A Tory MP resigns then blows the lid on the myth of BBC impartiality

Door of No 10 Downing Street and BBC politics logo
Fréa Lockley

On 1 April, MP Nick Boles quit the Conservative Party. He claimed this was “because my party refuses to compromise”. Following his resignation, Boles laid bare his reasons for leaving and also made a staggering announcement. He indicated that Theresa May’s refusal to compromise on Brexit may be influenced by Robbie Gibb, her head of communications. This is the same man who was in charge of the BBC‘s live political shows during the EU referendum.

“The media should be honest”

Boles quit the party after his ‘soft’ Brexit amendment was defeated for a second time.

On 3 April, as May met with Jeremy Corbyn to allegedly find some common ground, Boles claimed that Gibb “is a hard Brexiteer” and wants to “destroy” any “cross party compromise”:

But he went further than this, with a warning for the media to “be honest” about Number 10 briefings:

“Messianic Brexiteer”

It didn’t take long for people to respond to Boles’s revelation. Because between 2008 and 2017, Gibb was head of BBC Westminster and the editor of all live BBC politics shows. This included the live debate at Wembley Arena on the last day of EU referendum campaigning. He was also:

  • Editor of BBC Daily and Sunday Politics.
  • Executive editor for the Andrew Marr Show.
  • The executive editor of This Week.
  • Editor of the BBC‘s Budget and Autumn Statement programmes.

According to the Evening Standard, Gibb is a “messianic Brexiteer”. He was widely known as a “hard Brexiteer long before it became fashionable”. Gibb reportedly left the BBC for the “one job he wanted: No 10’s director of communications”.

Many people shared their concerns about this on Twitter:

Others also pointed out that, long before the referendum, Gibb “normalised the idea of leaving the EU” on BBC politics shows. In 2012, he also invited UKIP’s Paul Nuttall to take part in a BBC debate:

As The Canary‘s Kerry-Anne Mendoza pointed out, Gibb also gave Nigel Farage a national platform in the years running up to the EU campaign:

Meanwhile, others noted years of BBC bias on political shows. Some think Gibb’s role demands further investigation:

“Vote Leave’s crimes”

Boles’s claims open up further questions too. In 2018, whistleblower Shahmir Sanni alleged that Vote Leave broke electoral law and mismanaged funds during the referendum. He’s since stated he went to BBC‘s Panorama with his evidence, before going to Carole Cadwalladr who subsequently broke the story in the Observer:

According to Sanni, the BBC has continued to ‘shut down’ mounting evidence that links electoral “crimes” during the referendum to key Conservative Brexiteers:

Rotten to the core

As The Canary has frequently reported, there are longstanding concerns about bias in the BBC‘s political coverage. In many ways, Boles’s revelation confirms what many people have observed for some time. But it also goes far deeper, and shows that the links between Downing Street and BBC politics are rotten to the core. As Brexit chaos continues, this news is impossible for even the BBC to bury.

Featured image via Gov.UK and BBC Politics Bot

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us