Sir David Attenborough has attacked Brexiteers, claiming that they ‘spat’ in the faces of Europeans and ‘didn’t know what they were voting for’
Sir David Attenborough has launched an astonishing broadside against Brexiteers, claiming that they ‘spat’ in the faces of Europeans.
The 91-year-old naturalist also branded the EU referendum an ‘abrogation of democracy’ and said that people who backed the Brexit campaign did not know what they were voting for.
Sir David said: ‘I’m not an economist … but philosophically I would rather the people embrace one another than spat in one another’s face.’
But the broadcaster was quick to dismiss the ‘philosophical’ instincts of voters who backed Brexit.
Paraphrasing Michael Gove’s, he said: ‘”We’ve had quite enough of experts”. That’s a cry from somebody who doesn’t understand what they’re saying – that’s what that means.’
‘That’s when someone has told them something which they don’t like, and which they probably don’t understand.’
Mr Gove, who led the Brexit campaign with Boris Johnson, famously claimed before the EU vote that Britons ‘have had enough of experts’
Sir David added: ‘The decision to call a referendum was an abrogation of parliamentary democracy in my view because we didn’t know the facts. We weren’t presented with the facts.’
The BBC veteran – whose Blue Planet II is due to launch next month – then appeared to try and soften the blow by conceding that the behaviour of Brexiteers is ‘not evil’.
However, it was too late. His comments, made in an interview with the Greenpeace publication ‘Unearthed’, sparked fury amongst Brexiteers, who accused him of ‘sneering and insulting decent patriotic people’.
Sir David’s comments sparked fury amongst Brexiteers, who accused him of ‘sneering and insulting decent patriotic people’ (file picture)
One claimed that Sir David is himself ‘spitting’ at Brexit voters, and spending too much time ‘using UK taxpayers’ money filming animals instead of speaking with people.’
Another quipped: ‘David Attenborough should know well about the survival instinct. Brexit is the last ditch attempt to survive the social engineering of the EU.’
The broadcaster’s tirade also raised the hackles of BBC critics, who questioned whether Sir David had broken impartiality rules.
The Corporation’s editorial guidelines state that presenters’ ‘external activities’ should not ‘undermine the public’s perception of the impartiality’ of BBC programmes.
But yesterday, the BBC insisted that Sir David was allowed to wade into political rows like Brexit because he hosts nature series rather than ‘news and current affairs’.
Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash said that hat Sir David is just the latest in a long line of BBC grandees who have spoken out publicly against Brexit
A spokesman said: ‘Sir David’s personal views on Brexit have been widely reported before. He is a freelance broadcaster who presents natural history programmes for the BBC and other channels – he’s not a news and current affairs presenter and is entitled to his personal opinions.’
Not everyone was convinced by the argument, however.
Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash accused the Corporation of hiding behind ‘a smoke screen’.
He said: ‘I don’t know what current affairs is if it doesn’t involve matters of the planet. [The BBC is] just putting up a smokescreen. It comes to the same thing.’
Sir Bill added that Sir David is just the latest in a long line of grandees who have spoken out publicly against Brexit – many of them on the BBC itself – highlighting a wider problem with the ‘BBC establishment’.
Earlier this month, Dame Judi Dench told the Today programme that she backed the Remain campaign because ‘there is something about being inclusive that is more important than being exclusive’.
And last week, novelist Martin Amis went on the Radio 4 programme to brand Brexit a ‘self-inflicted wound’.