John Humphrys says BBC 'simply could not grasp' why anyone would vote for Brexit in new memoir

Telegraph Reporters
John Humphrys has accused the corporation of being out of touch with the nation in his memoir - Paul Grover

John Humphrys has lifted the lid on the BBC's "institutional liberal bias" and accused the corporation of being out of touch with the nation in his memoir. 

The veteran broadcaster, who retired from Radio 4's Today show two days ago, says bosses "badly failed" to read the public's mood on Brexit and "simply could not grasp" why anybody voted Leave.

In an extract published in The Daily Mail on Saturday, he recalled the morning after the referendum, writing: "Leave had won – and this was not what the BBC had expected. Nor what it wanted.

"No nods and smiles when the big bosses appeared. No attempt to pretend that this was anything other than a disaster."

In the book, called A Day Like Today, he adds: "Bosses, almost to a man and woman, could simply not grasp how anyone could have put a cross in the Leave box on the referendum ballot paper.

"I’m not sure the BBC as a whole ever quite had a real grasp of what was going on in Europe, or of what people in this country thought about it."

Humphrys describes the BBC as being terrified of offending "‘fashionable pressure groups – usually from the liberal left, the spiritual home of most bosses and staff".

However, despite his misgivings, the 76-year-old says he has "no doubt" that the BBC remains a "tremendous and irreplaceable force for good".

Humphrys also reveals that he voted for Remain, after facing complaints that he was guilty of pro-Brexit bias during his BBC career.

In another extract, he candidly addresses the broadcaster's handling of its gender pay gap row, saying it made the Today show a "laughing stock".

The son of French polisher father and a Welsh hairdresser mother, Humphrys earned a reputation as the broadcaster's "rottweiler-in-chief" after joining in 1967.

He became a presenter on Today in 1987 after a career as a foreign correspondent and presenter of the Nine O'Clock News. 

His last years in the job have been accompanied by scrutiny of his salary.  He took several pay cuts to bring his wages closer to those of his female colleagues.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph as Humphrys bowed out from the Today show on Thursday, the BBC director-general Lord Hall of Birkenhead said: "There is perhaps no greater tribute than the collective sigh of relief that will be issued by leaders and public figures all around the country."