GB News: I became a minority of one, says Andrew Neil

Media caption,
Andrew Neil tells BBC Question Time he was a "minority of one" at GB News

Former BBC presenter Andrew Neil says he left GB News over the direction the channel was taking, saying he became a "minority of one" within management.

The journalist told BBC Question Time he would let people "make up their own minds" over whether his exit was because the channel was too right wing.

He also described the launch of the new station as not a "startling success".

Neil resigned on Monday as lead presenter and chairman just three months after the channel went to air.

In a statement at the time, he said he had decided to "reduce [his] commitments on a number of fronts" - something he repeated on BBC One - and wished it well for the future.

In response, GB News said: "Andrew is without doubt one of the finest journalists and interviewers in this country.

"GB News thanks him for his 12 months of leadership, wisdom and advice, and we wish him well."

The TV channel launched in June, promising to "change the face of news and debate in the UK".

It recruited a number of big names alongside Neil, including former BBC News presenter Simon McCoy, ITV veteran Alastair Stewart and ex-Sun journalist Dan Wootton.

But it has been troubled by low viewing figures and resignations from other staff members, including the former advisor to Boris Johnson and ex-BBC correspondent Guto Harri.

Neil, 72, was on air for less than two weeks before announcing he was taking a break. amid reports that relations between him and chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos had broken down over the direction of the company.

'Draw your own conclusions'

In his first appearance since leaving the channel, Neil was asked by a Question Time audience member whether the recent resignations would lead GB News to become "a new British Fox News" - the US news channel popular with right-wing viewers.

The journalist said he had "always made it clear it wouldn't be a British Fox News", claiming the US channel "deals in untruths, it deals in conspiracy theories, and it deals in fake news".

He added: "That is not my kind of journalism and I would never have set out to do that."

But pressed on whether the comparison was why he left, Neil said: "I will let you draw your own conclusions as to why I am here tonight and not with GB News."

He added: "In the run-up to the launch, through the launch and in the aftermath of the launch and I think most of you who know anything about it will know you couldn't file the launch under startling success, more and more differences emerged between myself and the other senior managers and the board of GB News.

"And rather than these differences narrowing, they got wider and wider and I felt it was best that if that's the route they wanted to take then that's up to them, it's their money."

'Good luck to them'

Pushed again by presenter Fiona Bruce on whether the channel had gone "too far to the right", Neil said: "People should make up their own minds on that.

"What I have told you is the differences were such, the direction they were going in was not the direction that I had outlined, it was not the direction that I had envisaged for the channel and I was in the minority of one.

"So it is doing what it is doing and it is up to them, good luck to them if that is what they want to do, but it wasn't going to be with me."

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