A London Assembly member was almost removed from Mayor’s Question Time yesterday after saying the Labour Party “doesn’t really like Britain very much”.
Brexit Alliance Group’s Peter Whittle said Labour is not a patriotic party, and condemned Sadiq Khan’s plans to remove statues in the capital.
Labour Assembly members erupted in fury at the remarks from the former UKIP member who branded his words “disgraceful” and “offensive”.
Speaking at Mayor’s Question Time Sadiq Khan said his plans to fundamentally alter the history of London have “captured the imagination of Londoners”.
“Our capital’s diversity is our greatest strength, yet our statues, road names and public spaces reflect a bygone era. This can’t continue.”
But Mr Whittle said a “bygone era” is another word for “history” and argued no one has the right to decide “which legacies are celebrated”.
He claimed Mr Khan’s commission – which issued an open call for members last week – will not represent a range of views.
Whittle slammed the commission saying: “These people on your commission are all going to be Mayor’s mates, aren’t they.
They’re all going to sing from the same hymn sheet, which is an ideological one.
We all know, do we not Mr Mayor, that your party doesn’t really like patriotism, doesn’t really like Britain very much.”
His claims provoked fury on the Labour benches with AM Jennette Arnold demanding a formal motion to expel him from the meeting.
The London Assembly chairman can ask a member to leave if they fail to follow instructions, “behave disruptively or offensively” or obstruct the business of the meeting, according to Greater London Authority rules.
Labour’s Leonie Cooper and Onkar Sahota both offered to second the motion, with Ms Cooper condemning Mr Whittle’s “disgraceful” comments.
“Some of our relatives died fighting for this country. Some of our relatives expressed the highest levels of patriotism – how dare you?”
Just before chairman Navin Shah moved to a vote, Conservative member Gareth Bacon intervened, arguing that the motion set a “slightly dangerous precedent” that was “effectively ruling out free speech”.
Mr Bacon suggested Mr Whittle withdraw his comments but not apologise – which the Brexit Alliance Group member agreed to do.
Moving the meeting on, Mr Shah urged members to avoid “any kind of comments that could be offensive or inflammatory” in meetings.
“It does not look good on the role that we have as democratically elected members.”
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