He saw it as a relaxed chat for a local podcast about social issues in the place he has worked and lived in for more than three decades and so, by his own admission, was a little unguarded.
But Sir Tim Smit, the co-founder of Cornwall’s Eden Project, has become embroiled in a furore in his adopted homeland after suggesting that the Cornish could be “a bit more fucking articulate” and were too fond of looking backwards to “good old days [that] never were the good old days”.
Smit’s words were pored over by politicians and academics on Thursday – as well as by residents and business people in St Austell, the town closest to Eden, with some fiercer critics claiming his words were racist, a charge he strongly refutes.
“He’s put his foot in it, hasn’t he?” said Simon Carter, an art dealer in St Austell. “He’s a good businessman but I think he has some odd ideas. I don’t think it’s fair to say Cornish people look backwards. I actually think Cornwall’s very forward-thinking.”