A TORY MP has been met with disbelief after he quizzed the BBC’s director-general on the number of Union flags used in its annual report.

Tim Davie, who took on the BBC’s top job in September 2020, was appearing at Westminster to give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The PAC is tasked with overseeing government spending of public funds to ensure that they are not being wasted, and value for money is achieved.

However, James Wild, who has been MP for North West Norfolk since the 2019 General Election and who sits on the 16-member committee, took the opportunity to ask about Union flags.

Specifically, Wild was interested in the BBC’s 262-page annual report, published in September 2020 just two weeks after Davie took on his role as director-general.

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The Tory MP said: “In your annual report last year, 268 pages, do you know how many Union flags featured in any of the graphics in those glossy pages?”

There are 262 numbered pages in the report, but Wild is including unnumbered blank pages and both the front and back cover.

Davie answered: “Of all the briefings I got for this meeting that was not one of them I’m afraid.”

Wild pressed on, asking if the director-general would “like to take a guess”, to which Davie replied: “I have no idea.”

The Conservative MP then revealed that the answer is “zero”, adding: “Do you find that surprising?”

Davie, who has previously run as a Tory election candidate himself, answered: “No. I think that’s a strange metric. I have to say 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 many days of the year.”

He added that the corporation was “incredibly proud” of its work “championing the UK abroad”.

Wild said: “It’s always good to see the Union Jack flying but you’d think in a report that’s 268 pages about the BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation, my constituents would expect probably more than one flag appearing.”

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While Davie again stressed that he does not see the number of Union flags “as a metric”, Wild said: “OK, well you may not but licence fee payers may do.”

He then asked about another report the corporation had published last week entitled The BBC across the UK. This report is just 13 pages long and, aside from two maps of the British Isles, contains no images at all.

Wild asked: “Again, how many images were there of the Union Jack in that?”

Davie said he could “hazard a guess based on where the question is going”, but admitted he had not looked.

Wild said: “Again, it was none”, adding: “So in the annual report for this year perhaps you could include some imagery around the Union flag.”

The Tory MP then clipped the video from the London parliament’s website and shared it on his Twitter feed. It was soon widely mocked by users of the social media platform.

Former Conservative MP Anna Soubry tweeted: "When I worked with him I always thought [Wild] was bright, now this. The toes of sensible Tories will have curled up to their knees."

Political author and columnist Ian Dunt wrote: “I've been watching committee hearings in parliament for well over a decade and this is by far the stupidest line of questioning I have ever seen.”

Blogger Alex Andreou wrote: “I heard about this yesterday and smiled bitterly at the absurdity.

“But to see that he has posted the actual clip. That he is proud of his intervention. Thinks this is great. Thinks it distinguishes him as a statesman. It is beyond my comprehension.”

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Author Sathnam Sanghera added: “Not sure what is more stunning - a. He actually asked this or b. That he actually tweeted a video of him asking it.”

The Financial Times’s Henry Mance commented: “This may be the stupidest intervention ever by an MP.”

The Liverpool Echo’s Liam Thorp wrote: “This MP thinks the top issue for his constituents right now is how many Union flags were featured in a BBC annual report. What is going on?”

Other users compared Wild’s question to a Monty Python sketch, expressed disbelief it was not a spoof, and claimed it was the epitome of the UK Tories’ obsession with the Union flag.