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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
12 July 2022
Conservative leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch won't support the Online Safety Bill

Conservative leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch won't support the Online Safety Bill

Kemi Badenoch has declared she will not be supporting the Online Safety Bill in its current form. 

The leadership candidate revealed how she will vote on the bill this week as she appeared at an event on free speech yesterday.   

Badenoch believes that the proposed piece of legislation “is going to have some serious implications for free speech”. She told the audience, which was attended by people from across political parties, that “parliament is now legislating for hurt feelings through the Online Safety Bill”.   

This will be the first time that Badenoch will go against the government in a vote in the House of Commons since she became an MP in 2017. She said: “I am not going to be supporting it in its present form.” 

Having already agreed to attend the event, before she resigned as a minister and launched her leadership campaign, Badenoch made it clear that her appearance was not part of any leadership activity. Following her resignation, she said: “Now that I am not a minister, my speech has changed slightly. 

The bill will allow Ofcom to regulate online platforms, mainly enforcing companies’ terms of conditions on certain types of harmful content that is legal. Companies will be fined if they do not comply with the new regulation and prison sentences could also be handed down to senior managers if they continue to breach regulations. 

The former Minister of State for Equalities said: “Free speech is no longer something we can take for granted as a commonly shared value and this shift in attitudes has [caused] some dramatic, real-world events... There have been many incidents in universities of events disrupted, closed down, or speakers being uninvited because their views are seen as too controversial.” 

“The second bit you often hear is that the debate on free speech is a conspiracy whipped up to spark a culture war, or it’s a cover for bigoted middle-aged white men to spout politically incorrect nonsense.   

“Well, I’m not middle-aged, I’m not white, and I’m not a man”. 

She added: “The attacks on free speech usually harm the people that have the least power. They don’t control the institutions, that is why they need their voices, they need the tools of persuasion and reason.”   

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