Brexiteer says ‘there should be riots’ over Brexit in the style of gilets jaunes

PUBLISHED: 13:45 27 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:45 27 September 2019

Brendan O'Neill says there 'should be riots' while on Politics Live. Photograph: BBC.

Brendan O'Neill says there 'should be riots' while on Politics Live. Photograph: BBC.


Brexiteer Brendan O’Neill has said there ‘should be’ riots from Leave voters for the failure to deliver Brexit - live on television.

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Appearing on BBC's Politics Live O'Neill was talking about the reaction to the Supreme Court ruling from Brexiteers, when he asked: "What must they be thinking as they hear these 'so called' experts and lawyers and these parliamentarians - 70% of whom are anti-Brexit - going through all of these discussions? 'How can we prevent a clean Brexit', 'how can we ensure that this doesn't happen', and 'how can we go back to the people and force them to vote again because we think they were stupid and racist and got it wrong the first time round'?"

He continued: "They must be watching this wondering what's happened to democracy in this country?

"And I just think the introduction of law into this process is an absolute disaster, because what of it smacks of to me is there is a layer of society who are so used to getting their own way in politics, who are so used to everything going their way over the past 30 or 40 years, and are repulsed by the fact in 2016 it didn't go their way."

He explained: "Now they will use their financial power, their legal power and their parliamentary power to make sure it doesn't happen."

To astonishment from his fellow panellists, he said: "I am amazed that there hasn't been riots yet."

Asked by BBC presenter Adam Fleming if he thinks there will be, he said: "I think there should be."

"You think there should be?" clarified Fleming.

"Yes" responded O'Neill, as Observer columnist Sonia Sodha told him he was "inciting violence!".

"So you are urging people to go on the streets and smash up Vodafone shops?" Fleming asked the Spiked contributor.

"Hold on let me finish," continued O'Neill.

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"When I look at the gilets jaunes, who have taken to the streets because Macron messed them around over the eco-tax and various other things, what I continually think is why have the British people been so patient?

"Now this might sound alien to Sonia, because you live in a particular world... we all do," continued O'Neill, before the presenter again chipped in.

"Well we all live in a world where we can't just go and smash up shops," he told O'Neill.

"I'm not talking about smashing up shops," continued the Brexiteer.

"Well what kind of riots are you talking about?" asked Fleming.

But the Brexiteer insisted: "There is a fine tradition in this country of radical protests - right from the levellers in the 1640s to the chartists in the 1840s to the suffragettes who did take direct action... when their voices have been ignored."

His comments were condemned by viewers on the social media website Twitter.

"He is inciting people to violence on national television," wrote Charlie Proctor.

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"A pretty clear incitement. The agenda of the far right fascists is becoming increasingly clear: whip up hate, 'angry white man strategy', threaten and encourage violence," said Mo Ansar.

"How is it possible, that someone is allowed to call for riots on national TV - surely, this is incitement?" tweeted another mentioning OFCOM and the Met Police.

Others criticised the BBC for using O'Neill's comments on Twitter but editing the clip before he mentioned riots.

"Interesting edit by @BBCPolitics cut off the bit where he said 'there should be' riots?" wrote Michael Greenwood.

"So cool that you cut this just before the bit where he said that 'there SHOULD be riots'. Is spouting any old mad shit the best way to guarantee an invitation onto BBC political panels these days?" said Nick Ostler.

Rob Burley, the programme's editor, tweeted: "On live television people say unpredictable things. O'Neill's assertion that there "should" be riots if Brexit delayed was immediately picked up on and pushed back by Adam Fleming as well as other guests. O'Neill then appeared to backtrack on his comments."

He added: "It is for Mr O'Neill to defend his position but given we can't know what he was going to say in advance, all we can do is push back on air and allow other guests to challenge and that's exactly what Adam Fleming did."

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