The son of a baron went on Question Time to tell us to ‘stop talking about class’. He regrets that now. [VIDEO]

Jenkin on BBCQT
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BBC Question Time on 7 December focused mainly on Brexit. The panel included staunch ‘Vote Leave’ campaigner Bernard Jenkin. And the Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex aroused controversy with his comments on social class.

Hard or soft Brexit?

The discussion progressed through details of the UK’s departure from the EU. True to form, Jenkin advocated a ‘hard Brexit’ position throughout. He even resorted to repeating [24.41] ‘Vote Leave’ slogans:

We’re going to do very well outside the European Union. We’ll have our democracy back again. We will have control of our immigration. We’ll be… able to do those trade deals with other countries.

Playing to a pro-Brexit crowd, things seemed to be going well for Jenkin. But he was soon exposed. An audience member asked a question about the recent cross-party resignation of the national Social Mobility Commission. Members of the commission resigned en masse, stating that the current government is too obsessed with Brexit to help the poor.

Speaking before an audience in Swansea, where poverty and social deprivation levels are very high, Jenkin responded [41.32] with derision:

These commissions… they’re a bit of a talking shop. They don’t actually do anything. They just discuss things.

When pressed further, he continued [42.29]:

Read on...

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I wish we’d just stop talking about class. Class isn’t important. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from…


Stony silence met Jenkin’s remark. Then he was immediately put straight by the audience member who retorted [42.40]:

It’s easy for you to say we shouldn’t talk about social class because you haven’t had to experience the oppression and the hardship people that are in the lowest social classes have faced.

The statement was astute. Jenkin is the son of Baron Jenkin of Roding, is married to a baroness, and was privately educated. Many on Twitter were quick to point out his crassness:

A country that works for everyone?

When the present government assumed office, it was on the promise of creating “a country that works for everyone”. People even spoke of a kinder Conservatism. But the attitudes of those on the right of the Conservative Party, like Bernard Jenkin, show this is not the case. And these are the people who want a ‘hard Brexit’.

Without a massive change in direction, post-Brexit Britain will work for the 1% and no one else.

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– Read more Canary articles about inequality here.

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