BBC ‘sneering’ at patriotic Brits says Oliver Dowden as he rages after Union Flag mocked

The minister criticised the broadcaster for being out of touch with the vast majority of the public and failing to reflect the views of ordinary people up and down the country. Mr Dowden’s remarks came after Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was mocked on BBC Breakfast earlier this month for appearing with a flag and a picture of the Queen in the background.

Appearing on the programme for a virtual interview from his office, interviewer Charlie Stayt joked the Union Flag in the background was not up “to standard size”.

Co-presenter Naga Munchetty was filmed laughing before adding: “There’s always a flag.

“They had the picture of the Queen, though.”

She later liked multiple Twitter posts referencing the issue.

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Their remarks sparked outrage, with members of the public complaining about the conduct of the pair.

Following the backlash, Mr Dowden said yesterday: “Sometimes comments like the ones we saw in that interview begin to stray from banter into a sneering.”

He told Times Radio: “They do need to reflect all different parts of the United Kingdom, not just the Brightons and the Bristols and the Hackneys of this world but also the Leighs and the Dudleys and the Boreham Woods of this world.”

He added the values being mocked by the BBC were “attitudes that are held by many many people in this country”.

Mr Jenrick tweeted to say he was “proud” to have the flag in his office after being mocked by the BBC hosts.

He said: “We’re always proud to fly the Union Flag at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

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“It’s a symbol of liberty and freedom that binds the whole country together.”

Mr Stayt’s comment was “meant as a light-hearted, off the cuff comment and no offence or disrespect was intended”, the BBC later wrote in a statement.

“We received complaints from people unhappy with a comment Charlie Stayt made about the flag in the background of an interview and Naga Munchetty’s subsequent activity on social media,” it said.

“Naga and Charlie have been spoken to and reminded of their responsibilities, including the BBC’s impartiality and social media guidelines.”

Director-general Tim Davie, who has sought to stamp out accusations of bias at the corporation since taking over in his role last September, told MPs last week the BBC was “proud to be British”.

“One of the things I looked at when I came into the building this morning was a Union Jack flying proudly on Broadcasting House, which it does on many days of the year,” he told the public accounts committee.

“We are very proud of being British.

“We have been out there selling Britain abroad, growing the UK creative industries, generating strong exports on the back of it. I’m fiercely proud of it.

“It’s not just about the flag, it’s about the UK, and us getting out there and building business for the country.”

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