RUMBLED: Agony for Auntie as BBC bid to host Brexit debate is canned

True blue BBC: It seems there’s a reason the signage is that colour.

Wow. And only a couple of days ago we were discussing Theresa May’s mid-air hissy fit. That was nothing in comparison with this!

After Jeremy Corbyn gave the BBC’s proposed format for a TV debate on Brexit the bum’s rush, the BBC News press team has dramatically withdrawn its offer to host the event.

Representatives of the Corporation said they weren’t interested in hosting a straightforward, head-to-head confrontation, as demanded by Mr Corbyn.

Based on this evidence, it would be hard to believe the BBC was not acting as a stooge for the Conservative leader.

Here’s the statement from the BBC News press team:

For those who can’t read images, it says [with my commentary in bold]: “We are disappointed that we could not reach an agreement on the BBC’s proposal for a debate on Brexit.” Fair enough.

“We have been clear throughout the whole of this process that, as well as a substantive head-to-head debate, any programme we broadcast would need to include other voices, including other political parties, to reflect the wide range of views the public and parliamentarians hold about Brexit.” That was a mistake; the challenge was for a head-to-head debate and it was not the BBC’s business to try to change it… unless Mrs May had intimated that she would support this when she was negotiating this in one of the meetings that allegedly took place before she issued the challenge?

“The final proposal we put to both of the main parties was for a head-to-head debae between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, followed by a discussion between eight panellists, including politicians, with a wide range of views on Brexit, and ending with further head-to-head debate and closing statements. That’s a terrible idea. It provides far too much leeway for the BBC to stack the show with anti-Corbyn sentiment – or to be criticised for it. The BBC, often criticised for pro-Tory content, may have had a lucky escape there.

“We believe ours was a fair and appropriate format for those taking part and, crucially, for our audiences around the country, and it is a shame we will not be able to bring them this programme.” And this is why we called the Corporation “Auntie”. BBC bosses seem to think they know what’s good for us. In terms of politics, it should never be the BBC’s business to try to tell us what to think.

“However, we will keep our audiences informed with extensive news coverage and analysis around the vote, and with other programmes including a Brexitcast ‘takeover’ of the One Show tomorrow [December 5] and a specially half-hour programme on Monday 10 December.” Given what the Corporation just revealed about itself, perhaps even that is too much.

The withdrawal of the BBC leaves just one contender to host the debate: Jeremy Corbyn’s preference – ITV.

This puts Mrs May in something of a quandary.

It seems clear she has been trying to manoeuvre Mr Corbyn into a position where she can accuse him – of not understanding her Brexit plan; of trying to sabotage Brexit; or even of running away from a TV debate.

But now, with her BBC set-up scotched and all the smart money saying she won’t agree to the ITV plan, it seems that – once again – Mrs May will be the one accused of “running away”.

In fact, the Labour Party has done that already.

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