BBC’s David Dimbleby attacks ‘liar’ Boris Johnson and says PM is ‘apeing Trump’

‘If you’re in the glorious moment of supreme power the one thing you don’t want is to be held to account’, veteran broadcaster says in unaired interview

Vincent Wood
Saturday 22 February 2020 02:25 GMT
David Dimbleby gets a standing ovation at the end of his last Question Time appearance

One of the BBC’s most highly revered journalists has accused Boris Johnson of being a serial liar who is “apeing” Donald Trump‘s attempts to control the media.

David Dimbleby, who trailed the prime minister for a BBC documentary during the 2019 election campaign, said Mr Johnson was doing everything he can to undermine the UK's national broadcaster.

The 82-year-old became a national staple through his work on political programming such as Question Time, which he hosted for 25 years, as well as coverage of every general election from 1979 to 2017.

The veteran broadcaster launched a scathing attack on Mr Johnson in an interview with German broadcaster ARD

He reportedly said: “’Nobody trusts Boris Johnson. Who could trust Boris Johnson? He lies everywhere to everyone. He lies to his family. He just makes it up, you know.

“Boris Johnson, above all politicians, does it his way. He doesn’t take any notice of what people say. He doesn’t care what people think. He just wants to be prime minister.”

He added: “Johnson is apeing some of the attitudes of Trump. He is a different kind of political animal, like Trump, very similar rulebook.

“If you are like that the one thing you don’t want is people questioning what you’re doing, which is why he won’t let his ministers go on television or any serious programme.”

The remarks were first reported by the by the Daily Mail, which obtained a transcript of parts of the interview which were not broadcast.

Mr Dimbelby, part of a broadcasting dynasty within the BBC stretching back to his father’s time as its first war correspondent in the 1940s, hit out at Mr Johnson after Downing Street briefed it would introduce a sweeping overhaul to the corporation.

He said: “If you’re in the glorious moment of supreme power the one thing you don’t want is to be held to account. You do it your way.

It comes after conservative MPs hit out against the prime minister’s chief aide Dominic Cummings over his “brutal” attack on the national broadcaster.

An unnamed adviser vowed to “whack” the BBC by abolishing the licence fee and scrapping a number of TV and radio stations.

Huw Merriman, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the BBC, hit out at “ideological trench warfare” against the corporation.

“Where I get concerned is the somewhat brutal way behind [his methods]. So the BBC is a good example of that”, the MP said.

“It’s fair enough to say we need to have a conversation about whether the licence fee is going to still be relevant in 2027. There’s nothing wrong with that. I agree with that conversation.

“But this whole thing about ‘whacking’, about ‘it’s got hundreds of radio stations, and we’re going to close them down’. It doesn’t, it has 63, and so, therefore, the facts aren’t correct.

“And there seems to be a sort of nasty streak behind some of these briefings. And if our whole mantra is to try and unite the country, after the difficulties we’ve had over the last couple of years – and this government has a mandate to do that – then I’m not sure why we need to be quite so divisive in the tone and language that we’re using. I just don’t think it’s going to end well.”

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