Bake Off judge 'powerless' when attacked by Remainer internet trolls

Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith says she felt ‘powerless’ when attacked by Remainer internet trolls – but has no regrets about voting for Brexit

  • Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith says she has no regrets about voting for Brexit, despite being targeted by internet trolls
  • The TV star reveals she felt ‘powerless’ when she was attacked for her views
  • But she still believes that leaving the EU ‘in the long term is a good thing’ 

Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith says she has no regrets about voting for Brexit, despite being targeted by internet trolls.

The TV star reveals she felt ‘powerless’ when she was attacked for her views – but still believes that leaving the EU ‘in the long term is a good thing’.

Recalling the criticism she received at the time of the 2016 referendum, she says: ‘Being trolled is absolutely awful because you are so powerless. Everybody says this but it is true. You cannot come back and argue your case.

‘I was advised – and I think correctly – to do nothing, don’t give it oxygen, all you’ll do is reignite the people who hate you. So I did nothing, and it went away. It didn’t last very long, and it didn’t upset me for very long.’

She also tells today’s BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that while she is still supportive of Brexit, some of the issues it has created – such as a shortage of migrant labour for the hospitality sector – could have been tackled sooner.

Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith says she has no regrets about voting for Brexit, despite being targeted by internet trolls

‘I haven’t actually regretted it [voting for Brexit] because I still think long-term it’s a good thing,’ she says.

‘But I voted because I thought that we ought to be making our own decisions. And the only things that I have been disappointed by – and they are disappointing – is obviously I think we were not quick enough to realise just how difficult it would be to get staff.

‘I think we should let people in if we need them in the trade.’

The 81-year-old has been supportive of The Mail on Sunday’s campaign to prevent the UK being flooded with inferior food in the wake of post-Brexit trade deals.

She says: ‘The other thing I am still anxious about is I think we have very good food standards in this country, and I have always thought that we shouldn’t be allowed to make a deal that breaches our own rules.’

Prue, who moved to London from South Africa in 1960 and opened her first Michelin-starred restaurant in London nine years later, won a new generation of fans when she replaced Mary Berry on The Great British Bake Off in 2017.

During tastings, she has often commented on whether it is ‘worth the calories’ but says she is reconsidering the phrase following concerns by eating disorder experts.

‘It’s just an expression of how much I love something – “This is worth every calorie”, I’ll say, “Yum”,’ she tells host Lauren Laverne. ‘I think Beat, they are a charity that try to tackle eating disorders, and they say that I mustn’t say it because people then who have an eating disorder feel guilty, they feel unhappy, so they eat more. So perhaps I’ll stop saying it.’

The TV star reveals she felt ‘powerless’ when she was attacked for her views – but still believes that leaving the EU ‘in the long term is a good thing’

She also reveals she lost no time consulting Dame Mary when she was offered the Bake Off job.

‘I asked her what [fellow judge] Paul Hollywood was like,’ she recalls. ‘She said, “He’s fine.”… You have to hold your own because he is very articulate.’

In 2017, Prue provoked controversy when she accidentally tweeted her congratulations to winner Sophie Faldo ahead of the final show of that series being screened. She was on holiday in Bhutan at the time and misunderstood the time difference.

The tweet was taken down after just 89 seconds, but it was still too late to stop it going viral.

While she ‘felt so terrible’ about the blunder, she reveals that she received a congratulatory call from the Prime Minister of Bhutan because her gaffe had put the country ‘on the map’.

Speaking candidly about her 13-year affair with future husband Rayne Kruger while he was still married to Nan, one of her mother’s closest friends, she says: ‘Nobody knew about our affair, so I was still great friends with all of his family and indeed his wife, who I adored.

‘Although this was absolutely deceitful, I could no more have walked away from him than flown to the moon. I was completely in love with him.’

After Rayne’s divorce, Prue fell pregnant with her son Danny Kruger, now a Conservative MP.

‘I wanted a baby really badly and I did become pregnant so we then told Nan that we had fallen in love and that we’re going to have a baby, which must have been appalling for her because of course she had no idea,’ she says.

‘What we didn’t tell her was that we had been in love for 13 years… I am not at all proud of the fact that I was an adulteress for all that time.’

  • Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 today at 11am and will be repeated at 9am on Friday.

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