Andrew Neil has confirmed that he has stepped down as chairman and lead presenter of the newly-launched GB News channel.
In a statement published by the Guido Fawkes blog, the broadcaster told staff: “This is to let you know that the board has accepted Andrew Neil’s resignation as chairman today and agreed that he will step down as a presenter of GB News. He will continue to appear as a twice-weekly commentator, starting tonight on Nigel’s show.
“Andrew said he is sorry to leave but that after reflection during the summer he feels it’s time to reduce his many commitments.
“I know many of you will feel incredibly disappointed by this, as I do. Andrew joined GB News 12 months ago and signed a multi-year contract so we hoped he’d stay longer.
“Andrew shared our vision for GB News. He knew instinctively that many Brits, especially beyond London, were crying out for a trusted, accurate news channel that stands for tolerance, diversity, free speech, and fair debate.
“That mission, enshrined in our Editorial Charter, has not changed and never will.
“Andrew helped set our tone, our purpose, even our launch date. He has been integral to every major programming and hiring decision.
“In his absence from the newsroom, I’ve watched in awe as you have pulled GB News together. As I said in my note to you last Monday, we’re moving at warp speed: three new shows last week, two more this week, national radio, and more great things in the pipeline.
“Again, it’s thanks to you, who have all worked so hard over the summer, that we are unrecognisable from launch: brighter, stronger, and more self-assured in every way.
“I’d like to thank Colin Brazier in particular for hosting Andrew’s programme so brilliantly, proving night after night that he is one of the finest journalists of his generation.
“We’re already making our mark as a cheerful, fearless, and open-minded voice that dares to stand up for Britons who simply want to hear all sides, including theirs, in the national conversation. We made a promise to them and it’s one we will keep.”
Neil said: “I am sorry to go but I have concluded it’s time to reduce my commitments on a number of fronts.
“Over the summer I’ve had time to reflect on my extensive portfolio of interests and decided it was time to cut back.
“I wish GB News well in continuing to fulfil its founding promise and mission to reach audiences currently underserved by existing news broadcasters.”
A year ago, Neil announced his involvement with GB News and championed the new channel over the following nine months, promoting it as a “fresh approach to news in Britain”.
But soon after launching in June, Neil disappeared from his night-time slot as the station was hit with a predictable attack from hard-left campaigners threatening to boycott corporate brands advertising on the Channel.
As chairman of the right-leaning Spectator, Neil had endured a similar onslaught, successfully riding it out by threatening to blacklist m brands in retaliation. He issued a similar warning on behalf of GB News.
That was to be his last significant action for the Channel as he spent the rest of the summer in the south of France, making the odd appearance from his home there. Meanwhile, Farage was brought onboard and quickly shored up the channel’s credentials as a no-nonsense, right-wing media outlet.
The tension between Farage’s well-known political brand and the anti-woke, liberal rather than conservative – in July one of the channel’s presenters took the knee on-air – vision Neil was awkwardly trying to push set the scene for the latter’s departure.
Chief executive, Angelos Frangapolous is understood to have been dead-set on turning the channel into the British version of Fox, a characterisation Neil was at pains to play down when the project was initially unveiled amid frenzied speculation the liberal BBC would finally come up against a competitor more in line with popular views.
Former DUP leader, Arlene Foster; Patrick Christys, who previously wrote for right-wing news site, Westmonster; and Daily Mail columnist, Isabel Oakeshott have since been brought on board, consolidating Frangapolous’ preferred concept.
Oakeshott has long been associated with Farage through her involvement in Arron Banks’ book, The Bad Boys of Brexit, an account of the 2016 Leave campaign, which features the then UKIP leader prominently.
The announcement of Oakeshott’s arrival coincided with rumours Neil’s departure was inevitable. Indeed it was.