Cro­pa­ganda! BBC is ac­cused of anti-Brexit agenda on Coun­try­file

Daily Mail - - News - TV and Ra­dio Re­porter By Laura Lam­bert l.lam­bert@dai­ly­mail.co.uk

THE BBC has used Coun­try­file to broad­cast anti-Brexit pro­pa­ganda, view­ers have claimed. Some have threat­ened to boy­cott the ru­ral af­fairs show af­ter its episode ex­am­in­ing the fu­ture of the mi­grant labour force.

An­thony Snell, a Here­ford­shire-based straw­berry farmer, said re­stric­tions on sea­sonal work­ers from abroad would be ‘ab­so­lutely cat­a­strophic’.

Ac­cu­sa­tions of a pro-Re­main tone be­gan when pre­sen­ter Matt Baker in­tro­duced the feature on the EU, say­ing: ‘Tom Heap is look­ing into mi­grant labour on our farms, and asking could we get by with­out a for­eign work­force.’

He later added: ‘Agri­cul­ture is an in­dus­try that re­lies on mi­grant work­ers but, with Brexit on the hori­zon, there are wor­ries that we could be fac­ing a se­vere labour short­age.’

Mr Snell told Mr Heap that his com­pany could be de­railed if mi­gra­tion re­stric­tions were in­tro­duced.

He said: ‘This isn’t any­thing to do with mi­gra­tion or im­mi­gra­tion, this is just sea­sonal work­ers com­ing over here, work­ing hard, ben­e­fit­ing our econ­omy and then go­ing home.

‘There’s ab­so­lutely no doubt we would be in serious trou­ble if we didn’t have our sea­sonal work­ers com­ing here. We would be out of busi­ness. It would be ab­so­lutely cat­a­strophic to our in­dus­try.’

An­drew Brid­gen, Tory MP for North West Le­ices­ter­shire, said: ‘ The pro­gramme is far too Left-wing. Over half the farm­ers voted to leave the EU.

‘And the Gov­ern­ment is well aware of the need for sea­sonal work­ers for soft fruit farms. What the BBC has done is put the very worst spin on this.’

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Ship­ley, said: ‘The BBC needs to get over the ref­eren- dum re­sult, and get out more, be­cause it would seem the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity dis­agree with them. It is a bit of a mys­tery that the BBC can­not seem to find any­one in favour of leav­ing the EU.

‘The BBC were very fair and even handed dur­ing the ref­er­en­dum cam­paign, but since then they have gone into mourn­ing and their cov­er­age has been com­pletely un­ac­cept­able.’

One viewer wrote: ‘Ma­jor­ity of farm­ers voted to leave, BBC stop moan­ing and mak­ing up is­sues. Tom Heap is a doom mer­chant.’ An­other said: ‘BBC can’t re­sist us­ing Coun­try­file as Brexit-un­der­min­ing tool again.’

Mr Snell also dis­puted the BBC’s cov­er­age of the is­sue, telling the Mail he had ex­plic­itly asked it not to refer to his staff as mi­grant work­ers. He said there were sea­sonal staff in­stead.

Pla­men Velichkov, 29 and from Bul­garia, said: ‘My job is to su­per­vise and to check the qual­ity of the straw­ber­ries. I have left be­hind my fam­ily in Bul­garia, my mum, my dad and sis­ter.

‘I come here in Jan­uary and go back in De­cem­ber. I love it here, I mean that.’

Mr Snell said: ‘He’s a very good worker and we are lucky to have him. We couldn’t man­age with­out peo­ple like him.

‘We em­ploy around 70 sea­sonal work­ers at the minute but that goes up to 300 in May. We also em­ploy Bri­tish peo­ple, around 25 of them but they are mainly in man­age­ment po­si­tions.’

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