Labour's Wes Streeting calls for debate with Nigel Farage to take on 'toxic rhetoric' in 'battle of ideas'

16 June 2024, 12:06 | Updated: 16 June 2024, 13:04

Labour's Wes Streeting has called for a debate with Nigel Farage
Labour's Wes Streeting has called for a debate with Nigel Farage. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Kit Heren

Wes Streeting has said he would welcome a debate with Nigel Farage as a chance to expose his "toxic rhetoric".

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The Shadow Health Secretary told LBC's Lewis Goodall that his party should take on the Reform UK leader in "the battle of ideas".

Reform have called for a one-on-one debate between Mr Farage and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, which Sir Keir's party had not previously responded to.

Mr Streeting said he didn't underestimate Mr Farage as a campaigner, but that "he'd never been called to account for anything, by way of delivery."

He said: "I think the best thing that the Labour Party could do, to take the wind out of the sails of the populist who kind of promise this illusory change at the end of the tunnel, which never quite arrives, is to deliver real change in government."

Wes Streeting joins Lewis Goodall | Watch again in full

Mr Streeting said that some of Mr Farage's comments about Muslims in the UK had "dehumanised people". The Reform leader was criticised last month for saying that a "growing number" of young Muslims "do not subscribe to British values".

Mr Streeting said: "I think that when you demonise people for for being different, I think that has real world consequences," he said.

Asked if Mr Farage was "toxic", Mr Streeting said that "some of his rhetoric has been".

Lewis Goodall: 'It's a combination of the dishonesty of Boris Johnson, the fecklessness of Liz Truss, and the political lack of ability of Rishi Sunak'

"I'd happily have a debate with him about this," he added.

But Mr Streeting also joined other politicians in condemning the two recent physical attacks on Mr Farage on the campaign trail, both of which have resulted in criminal charges.

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage. Picture: Alamy

He said: "I don't mind saying that, you know, that battle of ideas has got to be a debate about the issues not I mean, slinging milkshakes at the guy. I mean, that's outrageous. throwing rocks in is absolutely appalling."

He drew attention to a photo of Mr Farage meeting the rival Labour candidate Jovan Owusu-Nepaul in the Clacton constituency where both men are standing.

"He bumped into Nigel Farage on the street, they had a bit of banter, shook each other's hands and moved on to campaign for themselves and for their parties.

"That's what an election campaign should be. It should be a battle of ideas. It should be good natured. It should give people a real choice."

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