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James O'Brien parts ways with BBC Newsnight rather than 'wind neck in' on Brexit and Trump

James O’Brien has parted ways with BBC’s Newsnight.

The broadcaster is an open critic of Brexit and US President Donald Trump, views which he airs on his daily LBC radio show.

But his opinionated approach flies in the face of strict BBC guidelines on impartiality, which have recently been applied to presenters who have taken a stance on BBC pay equality – resulting in some being taken off the air.

In a leader comment about O’Brien, pro-Brexit newspaper the Sun asked: “How can the BBC still feign political impartiality with this professional leftie propagandist presenting Newsnight?”

Tweeting earlier this month, O’Brien said: “As regular listeners know, I withdrew from the [Newsnight] roster some months ago to retain my right to criticise Brexit and Trump in my other work, notably @LBC.”

On Saturday he tweeted: “The thing Brextremists really can’t compute is me being prepared to compromise my career for principles.

“I hated stepping down from Newsnight and could have stayed with simple changes to my modus operandi outside the Beeb. The decision makes me look decent so they claim I was axed.”

Asked on social media why he stepped down from Newsnight, O’Brien said: “Because my beliefs expressed on other media that Brexit will be bad for Britain and that Donald Trump is a racist sex offender started receiving so much attention that I had to choose between winding my neck in on those two issues or not presenting BBC political programmes.”

Despite his departure from BBC Newsnight, he later added: “I personally believe that Trump & Brexit have broken the impartiality model but that’s not the BBC’s fault and it’s still the home of loads of the finest journalism – and journalists – in the world.”

The BBC has declined to comment. Press Gazette understands that there are no current plans for O’Brien to present Newsnight.

Picture: LBC

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