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David Dimbleby: Politicians’ language demeans democracy

David Dimbleby (Mark Allan/Hat Trick Productions)
David Dimbleby (Mark Allan/Hat Trick Productions)

David Dimbleby has criticised the language used by politicians as “demeaning to democracy”.

The former Question Time host, 81, is back on the BBC with a Panorama programme about Brexit.

Discussing the conversations he had with people while making the programme, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “A particular thing that comes through is anger with the politicians and with the language that’s used in politics.

“That is incredibly important. The language of the ‘surrender act’ and all the stuff we’ve heard in the House Of Commons has been quite demeaning to democracy.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for describing attempts to block a no-deal break with the EU as the “surrender act”.

The former election night host also told the Radio 4 programme: “I’ve been following politics for a long time, and I’ve never seen a country more divided, mainly over the Brexit issue.

David Dimbleby
David Dimbleby (Ian West/PA)

“We started this film expecting October 31 to be the end, ‘die in a ditch’… no, it didn’t happen.

“Everywhere there is this irritation, discontent and incomprehension about why Parliament hasn’t been able to implement what seemed to be a simple question in the referendum.

“It’s done terrible damage. It’s complicated, and people don’t like that.”

Mr Dimbleby said his words to the nation on referendum night had backfired.

“The referendum created a division. It asked people to be either A or B. No options, I think that was inevitably divisive.

“When I said on referendum night: ‘That’s it, we’re out’, people thought: ‘Oh well, that will happen tomorrow morning.’

“I’ve been teased everywhere. ‘You said, We’d be out. We’re not.’ It’s my fault!”

The veteran presenter dismissed quips by Today presenters that he had retired, saying: “I never said I was retiring! You stop doing one programme and you start doing others.”

And he said of not fronting this year’s election night coverage, which will be hosted by Huw Edwards: “It will be weird for me,  I love elections but I think 10 is enough.”

Panorama: David Dimbleby: How Brexit’s Changed Britain airs on Wednesday at 8pm on BBC One. 

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