Theresa May snubs BBC after Tory MPs complain of anti-Brexit bias

The Prime Minister has ditched the Corporation for her traditional start-of-year interview 

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Thursday 05 January 2017 09:51 GMT
Theresa May will appear on Sky News instead
Theresa May will appear on Sky News instead

Theresa May is to snub the BBC, breaking with convention to give her first interview of the year to a rival broadcaster.

Sky News will be the first channel to interview the Prime Minister in 2017 – in a break with tradition that usually sees the Corporation quiz the PM and set the agenda for the year ahead.

The annual so-called “curtain opener” interview has been carried out by Auntie’s flagship Andrew Marr Show for years.

The snub comes after a spate of complains by Tory MPs that the BBC is being insufficiently supportive of Brexit and being critical of the Government.

Last month MP Steve Baker accused the BBC of “manufacturing” a backbench Tory rebellion about Brexit. He accused the Corporation of “seeking to create problems for the Government”, despite the fact the rebellion was widely reported by a number of media outlets.

Separately, Andrew Rosindell tabled a motion criticising the BBC for failing to play the national anthem at the end of programming every day in honour of Brexit.

Other right-wing Tory MP such as John Redwood and Davis Davies have also accused the Corporation of bias, notably against Brexit.

Tory MP accuses BBC of 'manufacturing' Conservative backbench Brexit rebellion

BBC bosses were reportedly upset by the decision to ditch the public broadcaster for Rupert Murdoch’s channel.

A Government source reportedly told The Sun newspaper: “The BBC have such a sense of entitlement that they couldn’t believe the PM would want to sit down with anyone else for the start of the year interview. This will be a good lesson for them.”

The BBC and Sky News have long both fielded competing flagship Sunday morning politics programmes that tend to set the agenda for the week ahead.

Ms May is set to be interviewed by Sky News presenter Sophy Ridge, who will present a new programme, Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

A BBC spokesperson said: "The Andrew Marr Show has seen its biggest audience ever in the last 12 months. The Prime Minister has been on the show twice since September and we continue to discuss with her team an alternative date for her to come onto the programme in the near future."

She added: “The BBC continues to report impartially on UK political events as they happen.”

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