BBC Breakfast: Ben says he’s been ‘paying attention’ to Owain
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Former England cricketer Ian Botham has been appointed UK government trade envoy to Australia. Lord Botham, along with Baroness Hoey and several other MPs, have been made trade envoys in a bid to boost British business interests around the world. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the former cricketer would “bat for UK business down under”.
Lord Botham once landed in hot waters for reportedly saying “Aussies are big and empty – just like the country”, where he was affectionately known in the country as Guy the Gorilla.
He is one of ten new trade envoys.
Lord Botham, who played 102 Test matches for England between 1977 and 1992, is an advocate of field sports and a prominent Brexit supporter who was knighted in 2007, in recognition of his services to charity and cricket.
He currently sits as a crossbench – independent – peer in the House of Lords.
In January, he briefly returned to the limelight as he compared the BBC to the EU in a column on the Daily Telegraph.
Lord Botham accused the BBC of thinking it was “too big to reform” as he pointed to the EU as “another unaccountable institution that Britain got fed up with”.
The Brexiteer warned Brussels “made the mistake of thinking that we would always grin and bear it”.
He added: “How wrong they were.”
He claimed that since he joined the House of Lords last year he has been bombarded by emails from people saying the broadcaster is “turning against them”.
The ex-England player wrote: “The BBC dominates our culture and political debate.
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“But those I hear from feel it has lost its legitimacy.
“Mr Davie must move radically and quickly if they are not to feel even more alienated from his urban woke-run corporation.”
Lord Botham highlighted a YouGov poll which found nearly half of Britons think the BBC no longer represents their values.
Just four percent said that over the last year the values the BBC represents have become more like theirs.
He hit out at the “small army of presenters who use their BBC profiles to push their political and social views”.
The Brexiteer also blasted the BBC for forcing over-75s to pay for TV licences.
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Lord Botham said: “Our senior citizens do not deserve to be impoverished or frightened by demands from BBC tax collectors.”
Last month, BBC host Andrew Marr admitted the national broadcaster is suffering under huge pressure.
Mr Marr told Times Radio’s Matt Chorley that the backlash from viewers over bias controversies had taken its toll.
Mr Chorley said: “The BBC is under a huge amount of political pressure.
“There have been big rows this week over whether or not the journalist Jess Brammar should join as the head of news.
“Newsnight host Emily Matilis looked like she accused the BBC of caving in to pressure from Downing Street after she was told off for opening a Newsnight programme with a monologue about Dominic Cummings breaking the rules.
“Are you worried about BBC impartiality? How easy is it to be a political journalist in the BBC right now?”
Mr Marr responded: “It is really, really hard I think.
“I remind myself before every show starts, the five minutes before we are on air, that the people watching are passionate Ukip-supporting Brexiteers.
“And they are hard-left supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and everything in between and they have all paid their license fees.
“They all deserve a programme that is decent and fair in its treatment of everybody.
“But it’s really difficult. As you know Matt, the country has become so angry and so divided.
“Everyone seems to be shouting at everyone else. People seem to have retreated into political tribes and they are engaged in warfare from the trenches.
“And to be the neutral platform, on which you can have a civilised discussion across the divide, becomes increasingly difficult.”
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