James O'Brien skewers Sunak over plans to brand those 'vilifying' UK as 'extremists'

3 August 2022, 14:19

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien dissects Tory leadership hopeful Mr Sunak's plans to treat those who 'vilify the UK' as 'extremism', in a broader definition of radicalisation.

Under the plans from former chancellor Mr Sunak, people who ‘vilify’ Britain would be treated as extremists and referred to the Government’s Prevent programme.

But his camp insists the change in definition would not include criticism of the Government or any government policy, and that it would not be legally binding.

Mr Sunak said: "There is no more important duty for a prime minister than keeping our country and our people safe. Whether redoubling our efforts to tackle Islamist extremism or rooting out those who are vocal in their hatred of our country, I will do whatever it takes to fulfil that duty.

"Britain is a beacon of freedom, tolerance and diversity. We must never let those who seek to undermine and destroy our way of life to succeed."

LBC's James O'Brien, in disbelief, questioned how Rishi Sunak could say "I'm going to treat you like a terrorist if you say mean things about the country" and, James added, "in the same breath saying, 'Britain is a beacon of freedom, tolerance and diversity'."

He considered that, while Priti Patel's immigration plans include sending refugees to Rwanda, which some say directly opposes freedom and tolerance, the Tory Party's leadership contest has contained some diversity - "as long as everybody agreed there's no such thing as racism", he said, referring to the Government's landmark race report.

James encouraged Tory members to phone in to answer "what on earth Rishi Sunak is appealing to" when he proposes deradicalising those who vilify Britain.

He said: "Given that the Conservative Party is responsible for turning Britain in to the first country in history to impose economic sanctions on itself; given that the Conservative Party still considers it to be a cause of celebration that we have abolished our own freedom of movement; given that the Conservative Party is placed now, where denying the very existence of racism is rewarded, and where epic incompetence and nation damaging stupidity can see you promoted into Secretary of State status, I don't know what this means.

"Who's vilified Britain more in the last few years than Boris Johnson?

"Who's made us look more ridiculous on the world stage than the current Government? Who has lied to us more than Boris Johnson and now Liz Truss? What does Rishi Sunak mean?"

James questioned who Rishi Sunak is talking about: "Nobody seems to hate Britain more than the far-right in this country than the white supremacists' strand of British politics, they absolutely hate it.

"What does hatred of Britain look like in the context of Rishi Sunak's strange dreams?

"Should I be worried? I criticised the Government while loving this country and it's the people who damaged my country that I hold the greatest resentment towards - but that's Rishi Sunak."

He continued, talking of Westminster's initial handling of Covid: "How many people are dead as a direct consequence of Boris Johnson's incompetence?

"All I do know is Rishi Sunak thinks that Daily Telegraph readers, therefore Conservative Party members, will lap this up."

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