Nigel Farage who is the Brexit Party leader clashed with the broadcaster Andrew Marr on his Sunday morning TV show in a row that has shocked and split viewers. Mr Farage said: ‘It was bizarre that the ludicrous line of questioning persisted all the way through’.
In an incendiary column last night, Mr Farage says he is a victim of BBC ‘bias’ and had to ‘fight like crazy’ to get on to Question Time on Thursday, claiming that the corporation is trying to ‘exclude’ the Brexit Party from TV. He also claimed the BBC was ‘still receiving a seven-figure sum from the EU’ – ‘taking millions in this way from the EU during the past decade.
It does so secretly, without mentioning this in its accounts. I find this highly suspicious’. The BBC’s Media Action charity was paid more than £3million from Brussels in the 2017-18 financial year, but denies this was secretive.
Nigel Farage’s new party is flying in the polls and is predicted to win the popular vote when the European elections take place on May 23.
On Sunday Mr Marr had brought up his past comments about the NHS and admiring Vladimir Putin, and the irate Brexiteer replied: ‘I’ve never in my life seen a more ridiculous interview than this. You are not prepared to talk about what is going on in this country today. You’re in denial, the BBC is in denial’.
Campaigning in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, yesterday, ‘The idea was to use up all the time talking about irrelevances and inaccuracies, rather than talking about a major election taking place next Thursday. That’s why I took the attitude that I did.’
In another blast at the BBC he said: ‘The BBC is a public service broadcaster. We are essentially taxed on the BBC. £150 a year goes to the BBC, the licence fee. People like Andrew Marr get £400,000 a year from this money. This was not public service broadcasting.
‘You’ve got a brand new political movement that’s come from nothing and is leading the polls. I would have thought on the first big interview on TV, it might be interesting to find out how and why that has happened’.
Andrew Marr has stayed largely quiet over the row, although the BBC’s TV politics chief Rob Burley insists that Mr Marr’s line of questioning was fair and impartial.
Mr Marr then retweeted a message from his colleague saying: ‘Andrew Marr and the rest of us will just carry on doing OUR job and we won’t be intimidated’.
Twitter users attacked the BBC, saying that the interview had been a ‘hatchet job’ and Mr Farage himself complained today that it had brought up subjects ‘entirely unrelated to this election’.
Piers Morgan was among those who took the side of Mr Farage, saying in a row with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell that ‘hysterical’ critics were helping propel Farage ‘into Downing Street’.
But other twitter users were less sympathetic, with many saying it was right that he be held to account and some suggestion that he appeared on the BBC too often.
But Jason Keen, a producer on the Andrew Marr programme, defended its handling of the Brexit Party leader.
Writing on Twitter he said: ‘It is not true Marr ”didn’t ask Nigel Farage anything relevant to EU elections” Andrew questioned him for 9 mins on: The mandate for no deal (Farage’s flagship policy) (and) whether 2nd ref or a Brexit deal that keeps us close to EU would be ”betrayal” (one of his key arguments).’
It came as Mr Farage hit out at being prevented from meeting US President Donald Trump during this summer’s state visit, saying: ‘Theresa May doesn’t care about the national interest.’
He claimed that he had been banned by the Government from meeting Mr Trump on the President’s last visit to the UK last year.