Brexiteer presenter’s views questioned after defending Boris Johnson against claims he’s a ‘modern-day Enoch Powell’

PUBLISHED: 12:46 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:57 23 June 2020

Iain Dale is a host on LBC radio. Photograph: LBC.

Iain Dale is a host on LBC radio. Photograph: LBC.

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A journalist - and ‘lifelong’ Tory voter - appeared to accuse a Brexiteer radio presenter of racism after he defended Boris Johnson against claims that he is a ‘modern-day Enoch Powell’.

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Former Daily Telegraph political columnist Peter Oborne, a critic of Boris Johnson, accused LBC host Iain Dale of defending racist language used by the prime minister when he was an editor of the national newspaper.

As a columnist with the same newspaper, Johnson once described Muslim women who wear the Niqab, a traditional Islamic face covering, as “letter boxes”.

“Johnson gets away with outrageous and politically incorrect comments that would destroy a lesser figure”, he said, suggesting the government was planing to turn “this very sensitive crisis about statues, Black Lives Matter into a war on woke.”

Defending the prime minister, Dale claimed Johnson’s article was actually promoting the right of people to dress as they please before accusing Oborne of using “leery” language himself as a columnist.

“I don’t use racist language in my columns, unlike the prime minister, I’m afraid,” he replied. “Are you a racist, Iain? Do you find it perfectly OK to use racist language?”

“No, and it’s terribly insulting asking such a question when you know full-well,” he replied.

Oborne went on to say: “We have a prime minister... who uses openly racist language and gets away with it and charms everybody into thinking that is perfectly OK.

“You seem to be defending that type of language”.

“If you had actually read that you would know that he was arguing that Muslim women have a right to dress how they want,” Dale argued.

“The problem is that he was insulting those women who choose to wear that type of garment and that was the problem. It was a dog whistle to the Islamophobes,” the journalist replied.

“It’s very dangerous language as it encourages racist people and people who are Islamophobic to use that kind of language.”

Dale downplayed the claims, adding the prime minster was working to pardon illegal migrants in the UK while also trying to re-home 300,000 Hong Kongers following domestic strife in the country.

Oborne praised the efforts to grant citizenship to so many before pointing out that the prime minister backtracked on plans to offer amnesty to migrants.

In a recent article published by Oborne, the former national news reporter claimed that Boris Johnson’s adoption of racist language made him a “modern-day Enoch Powell”.

Oborne says that Johnson conjured Powell when he called crowds of Commonwealth nations “piccaninnies” - a term Powell used in his Rivers of Blood speech.

“Is it is a coincidence that Johnson followed Powell in using this racist term?” he wrote.

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