'Who are you talking about?' Trevor Phillips clashes with Jeremy Hunt over PM's 'mob rule' claim

'Who are you talking about?' Trevor Phillips clashes with Jeremy Hunt over PM's 'mob rule' claim

Trevor Phillips interviewed Jeremy Hunt on Sky News
Trevor Phillips interviewed Jeremy Hunt on Sky News Sky News

Trevor Phillips clashed with Jeremy Hunt when pressing the chancellor over the supposed rise of “extremist” groups in the UK on Sunday morning.

PM Rishi Sunakcaused a stir last week when he claimed “mob rule” is rising in the UK and that “extremists” are hijacking marches.

He made the comments when he met with police leaders to discuss the recent protests over the war between Israel and Hamas.

So the Sky News presenter asked Hunt: “Can you name a group that isn’t already banned that needs to be proscribed because of their actions on these marches?”

Hunt declined to do so, saying it was the home secretary’s responsibility.

Phillips pushed: “You want to be practical – name one.”

“I said, I can’t give you the name of one,” Hunt replied. “What I can tell is that the vast majority of British Muslims want to protest peacefully and within the law, and they have every right to do so.

“But we have seen examples of very intimidatory protests that have made other people feel very unsafe. That is not the British way, and what the prime minister was saying –”

“By whom?” Phillips cut in.

Hunt ignored him, and continued: “What the prime minister is saying is what we need to remember is the British way is tolerance and understanding, the way you get change is through peaceful protest, and argument and persuasion, and he was reaffirming those very British values.”

“Forgive me, chancellor – this is a very important point,” the presenter jumped in. “Part of the British way is to be straight. When you say, we’ve seen these protests, and these people, which people are we talking about, who are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the scenes I’ve seen on television, I’m talking about the emails I’ve received from people who have been terrified by what they’ve seen at these protests,” the chancellor replied.

The two started to speak over each other, as Phillips repeating his question – “Who is it that you’re talking about?”

Getting frustrated, Hunt said, “let me finish” before admitting: “I don’t know the names of the people I see on television.”

The minister added that the “vast majority” of people on these protests want to do so peacefully and within the law – and “we respect their right to do so”.

Phillips replied: “I’ve let you answer, but if you wouldn’t mind answering my point.

“When you and the PM speak of these anonymous groups, or organisations, there are people assuming that you must mean either anyone who has been on these marches or anyone who has happened to profess the Muslim faith.

“If you know this is happening, why can’t you say what groups – the prime minister specifically spoke about groups and organisations – you mean?”

Hunt accused Phillips of not listening to his answer, which the presenter quickly denied and crossed his arms.

“I think I’ve answered your question with the greatest respect,” the chancellor said.

Phillips then shifted tactic, and said: “Are you seriously making the case that what I see on Saturday, when I walk through Westminster from Sky’s studios, is mob rule?”

“Well, let me put it this way, I’m not Jewish, but I’ve been contacted by Jewish people who say they’re afraid to go outside their front door when those marches are happening,” Hunt replied.

He called for the “social fabric of this country” to be restored.

After Sunak’s speech on Friday, the prime minister’s spokesman was unable to explain why the PM thinks most of the country think the whole political system is now at risk.

He claimed: “The evidence for that is the events that have taken place.”