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The BBC was ‘contemptuous’ of its listeners and viewers over its handling of Brexit, a senior Tory MP has said. 

Julian Knight, who is chair of the influential Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the corporation had a ‘collective nervous breakdown’ over Brexit and had been ‘not in touch at all’ with the public over the issue. 

Mr Knight, who is the Conservative MP for Solihull, said the way it handled Brexit had shown that the BBC ‘culturally, feels a bit disconnected’.

In an interview with GB News presenter Gloria De Piero, to be broadcast at 12.30pm on the channel today, the MP described the corporation as a ‘bipolar organisation’ with its focus on London and Manchester and ‘very little in between’.

He told Miss De Piero before he worked at the BBC himself, he had only ever seen one other person called Julian, but when he joined the broadcaster there were eight on his floor. He cited this as how the corporation was a ‘very middle class institution’.

Conservative MP Julian Knight (pictured in June), who is chair of the influential Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the BBC had a 'collective nervous breakdown' over Brexit

Conservative MP Julian Knight (pictured in June), who is chair of the influential Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the BBC had a 'collective nervous breakdown' over Brexit

Conservative MP Julian Knight (pictured in June), who is chair of the influential Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the BBC had a ‘collective nervous breakdown’ over Brexit

The MP said the corporation needed to ‘culturally, listen a lot more than they do’ and that the corporation needed to consider its funding model ‘in the long term’ but it would need to be ‘gradual’.

He also described social media giant Facebook as ‘a bit of a cult’ which appeared to have a ‘different agenda’ to its social media rivals. He said this came from ‘one man at the top’, its boss Mark Zuckerberg.

He criticised the ‘bullying’ of Australia by the company, which saw Facebook block news to users of its platform in that country. Mr Knight said the ‘idea of just switching off an entire utility….is just bullying, and wrong’.

The Tory MP appeared to suggest that any concessions from them had to be ‘dragged kicking and screaming from them’.

Speaking about the BBC, he said while the UK would be a worse country without it the corporation was ‘not in touch at all’ over Britain leaving the EU and the leave decision in the referendum.

He said: ‘It had a collective nervous breakdown, in my view. It didn’t understand it. It was rather, I think contemptuous of its listenership, or viewership.’

Mr Knight said the BBC was 'contemptuous' of its listeners and viewers over its handling of Brexit. The corporation's Broadcasting House in London is pictured

Mr Knight said the BBC was 'contemptuous' of its listeners and viewers over its handling of Brexit. The corporation's Broadcasting House in London is pictured

Mr Knight said the BBC was ‘contemptuous’ of its listeners and viewers over its handling of Brexit. The corporation’s Broadcasting House in London is pictured

Mr Knight added: ‘They didn’t get it, even slightly, and I think that brought into sharper focus that issue, which perhaps the BBC, culturally, feels a bit disconnected.

‘It’s a bipolar organisation, so London and Manchester, it’s very little in between.’

He said: ‘I had never met, or I met one Julian, I think, in my life. I think he was a dancer on Hi-De-Hi. That’s the only Julian I’d ever seen in my life before I got to the BBC.

‘On my floor there were eight. Julians everywhere because it was a very, sort of, very middle class institution.’

Mr Knight said new director-general was making ‘a decent fist of it’, added: ‘And in the news meetings they’d have the Guardian and the FT and they’d think that was balance.’

When asked about his views on Facebook, he said: ‘Look, Facebook is a bit of a cult, let’s be honest about it. I mean, it just appears to have a different agenda, in fact, than the other social media companies.

Mr Knight also described Facebook as 'a bit of a cult' which appeared to have a 'different agenda' to its social media rivals. He said this came from its boss Mark Zuckerberg (pictured)

Mr Knight also described Facebook as 'a bit of a cult' which appeared to have a 'different agenda' to its social media rivals. He said this came from its boss Mark Zuckerberg (pictured)

Mr Knight also described Facebook as ‘a bit of a cult’ which appeared to have a ‘different agenda’ to its social media rivals. He said this came from its boss Mark Zuckerberg (pictured)

‘And it comes from one man at the top, Zuckerberg. So I do think that Facebook has very particular issues.’

He added: ‘They always seem to take the approach that, effectively, anything – it’s always dragged kicking and screaming from them.

‘And I would like to see them take the approach that I do think some of the other ones are taking, which is more about OK, well, we understand that we have skin in the game as well.

‘We’re in society. We don’t want to see society crumble. So therefore, what we need to do is we need to work to ensure that our platforms are still free.

‘But at the same time, they still have at least an understanding of the social harms that can happen and the proper processes in place in order to combat those. Facebook needs to come a long way towards that and they’re not doing it yet.’

Julian Knight has been interviewed by GB News presenter Gloria De Piero, which will be broadcast at 12.30pm on the channel today 

Source: Daily Mail UK

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