THE BBC has been heavily criticised for its coverage of the third Brexit anniversary after broadcasting an “insulting” interview with two pro-Leave politicians and organising a special debate on the issue with no voice from Remain-voting Scotland.

The interview on Tuesday’s Today programme - presented by Justin Webb - involved Tory peer Daniel Hannan and Tory MP Theresa Villiers discussing the impact Brexit has had on the economy after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the UK will perform worse than other advanced economies, including Russia, in 2023.

The segment was widely slated with many deeming it “incredible” there was no Remainer involved as both Villiers and Hannan were given several minutes to argue that Brexit had not damaged the economy with no voice from the other side challenging them.

It has also emerged Radio 4 will be hosting a special debate this evening on Brexit with a panel involving Brexiteers Claire Fox and Jacob Rees-Mogg, ex-Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell and Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The National:

There are concerns the debate at 8pm will involve no voices from Scotland or Northern Ireland – both of which voted to Remain in the 2016 referendum.

It comes after The National commissioned a poll showing the majority of Scots do not think the BBC has done a good job of reporting on the impacts of Brexit.

Hannan told Radio 4 it “makes no sense to say there is a big negative effect from Brexit” and tried to argue Brexit enabled the UK to rollout the Covid vaccine faster.

Meanwhile, Villiers argued there “was a lot of good news about the economy” to try and deflect accusations Brexit had largely contributed to its downfall. Villiers and Hannan blamed Covid and the Ukraine war for the problems the UK economy was facing.

Les Huckfield, a former Labour MP who now backs Scottish independence, said the interview with was “disgraceful” and he would’ve expected someone who knew more about the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement – signed three years ago this week – to have contributed.

He told The National: “To have almost 10 minutes of Daniel Hannan and Theresa Villiers - I thought it was quite incredible.

“It’s not the anniversary of Brexit, strictly speaking, it’s the anniversary of the very contentious Trade and Cooperation Agreement that Johnson and co reached, on the back of which comes the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“There was no analysis of that. It was disgraceful.

The National: Les Huckfield moved to Scotland two decades agoLes Huckfield moved to Scotland two decades ago (Image: NQ)

“We’ve made everything more difficult [with Brexit]. We’ve got a shortage of labour, a lot of people who were doing very valuable work in the UK have now left.

"The consequences are going to go on for at least a generation and for Hannan and Villiers to say ‘it’s just a bit of teething trouble and think about all those opportunities in South East Asia’ - that is ridiculous.

“This now happens morning after morning [BBC bias]. It’s not just on Brexit.

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“As the IMF came out and said this morning, we are doing the worst of the lot and the reason for that is largely down to Brexit. There was no echo of that this morning [during the interview] and to get characters on like that and give them such an easy ride is appalling.”

Earlier in the Today programme people working in business who felt the UK’s economy had been damaged in greater proportion by leaving the EU than by anything else were interviewed alongside financer and Remain supporter Guy Hands. 

There was also some analysis from the BBC’s Europe Editor on how the EU viewed Brexit and Professor John Curtice covered public opinion on the UK leaving the EU. 

But that did not stop a flurry of criticism on social media about the interview with Hannan and Villiers as people were baffled by the apparent imbalance of views. 

The National’s poll found a plurality of people (30%) thought the BBC had done “not very” well at reporting accurately on Brexit’s impact. A further 23% said the broadcaster had “not at all” accurately represented the impacts.

At the other end of the spectrum, just 3% of respondents said they thought the BBC had “very” accurately reported on the effects of leaving the EU. A further 15% said they thought the corporation had “somewhat” accurately reported on its impacts.

SNP president Mike Russell said it was clear the BBC had not learnt from the stark figures presented judging by the Radio 4 interview.

He said: “To have two Brexiteers debating Brexit whilst excluding any voice that reflected the current reality of a sizeable majority against Brexit in all but a handful of places throughout the entire UK is not just wrong - it is wilfully, deliberately and insultingly wrong.  

“This is being done in order to whitewash the massive and corrupt blunder of Brexit.

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“It beggars belief that given the current situation Labour is still parroting impossible nonsense about 'making Brexit work' but of course it is only able to get away with that because the BBC and much of the media are complicit in the deceit.

“The National’s own poll 10 days ago showed that Scotland is no longer fooled by that approach but clearly the BBC has learnt nothing from the stark figures presented in that survey. “

Media and propaganda expert Dr Emma Briant said the interview was an example of the BBC helping to cover up the “recklessness” of Brexit.

She added: “They [the BBC] allowed Brexiteers to deflect the blame for post-Brexit economic woes onto Covid and this was barely challenged.

“The reason you don’t take unprecedented risks with the economy is exactly because you don’t know what’s around the corner, and crises and challenges like pandemics and wars must be anticipated.

“In failing to bring on anyone to challenge this narrative, the BBC helped them cover up a recklessness that will hurt British families for years to come.”

The BBC declined to comment.