Hertfordshire is the secretary of state for transport grant chaps good morning, mr chaps good morning, um let’s just start on a fairly general note. There is a sense that this government is being overtaken by events. This week, um clips have been shown of pretty patel, giving an interview two or three weeks ago, where she refused to condemn fans who were booing players who were taking the knee against racism. She actually described that gesture as gesture politics. It all looks very out of date now, when you see and it’s only a couple of weeks ago and she hasn’t said anything about it, she’s uh, she’s kept stump just starting on that point, is there a sense that your government is being overtaken by events and Is running to catch up? No, i i don’t agree with that. I mean. First of all, i i thought the football was remarkable and it’s it’s, so sad that people would ruin it with racist uh comments, abuse online and were acting on that. The prime minister called the social media companies in yesterday and pointed out that we’re going to pass laws in something called the online harms bill, which would find them 10 percent of their global turnover if they don’t sort this out. But you know, as for everything else, we all are poor racism, no one wants to see it in society or in football or anywhere, and i think you know pretty patel of all people who is herself from ugandan indian heritage and has spoken movingly about the racism That she experienced, as i think, a school child in the house of commons i’ve heard her speak about this um.
I i think is the last person who we should be singling out here. I think we should all agree to fight racism. We applaud the racism shown towards prissy patel as well, but don’t. You think that by refusing to criticize those who boo the players who take a knee, that was, as tyron ming says, part of the problem stoking the fire. You know to just to dismiss that as gesture politics. You might not agree with taking the knee, but not to criticize those who undermine it by booing those players who experience that racism at the very moment when they know they’re on the national and international stage and they’re going to receive abuse of the type. You then criticize after the game, that was a mistake, wasn’t it well. As i said i mean i, i think we can support any way in which people want to express the desire to boot out racism, and i i have no issue with that at all um. I i actually think um, you know the the performance of the england players was was superb. It brought the country together, it’s a huge shame that we’re having to debate um racism. Yet again, it is a fact of life it’s a fact in in football, and we must do everything possible to get rid of racism, steve baker, member of your own party, steve baker and johnny mercer. Actually, former veterans minister have both said that it is time of the conservatives attitude towards racism towards taking the knee to change.
So is it time to stop criticizing footballers, i mean i can’t believe we’re even saying to stop criticizing the footballers who take the knee. Is it time to say to those fans who boo the taking the knee don’t do that this is an important yeah? I mean protest. I i, i think that, as i say, we should support our footballers. We support anybody who wants to whatever form uh their anti racism. Um takes. You know, i think we should support that and to answer your question um, i didn’t hear any uh any booing um at the stadium, not that i heard on sunday night. I think that we have, you know shown as a as a country how we can unite and come together, and i think, it’s a shame to be, as you rightly say, it’s a shame to be having to be having these sort of quite arcane debates about it. When we all want the same thing to boot, the racism out and that’s, why the prime minister hauled in those social media companies which is where we’re seeing you know it’s online, that we’re seeing a lot of that abuse as well um, making it clear that that Cannot continue and we will take measures, including very, very strong, uh uh, fining of those companies 10 of their global turnover if they don’t find ways to prevent that from continuing. Well, you mentioned the prime minister and, and the thing is when we get into a big national debate, that’s going on at the moment in this case about racism, past words can come back to haunt politicians and earlier on the program today, we were discussing some of The articles that mr johnson wrote when he was a freelance journalist, largely uh, for the telegraph for which he was roundly attacked at the time uh for displaying what was seen as racist elements in his commentary.
Um we’re thinking about the comments he made about the burqas and the letterbox and all of that stuff, and there were other articles as well things which maybe he meant as a joke, but which were taken very much as offensive remarks, particularly by people of color that’s. On the record that’s been written, is that an embarrassment for the government to have a prime minister who’s written those things well, first of all i mean again, i i often hear people talk about his article about the burka. If you actually take the time to read the article, it was a passionate defense of the right of people of women to wear um the burqa. It was a liberal argument if, if you like, but you know, we go back over territory many times before they’ve been covered many times before. Look at what’s actually happening. Look at this cabinet, which is the most diverse. I think boris johnson’s had the most diverse cabinets that we’ve ever had uh in this country, the the home secretary, the uh, the chancellor, the business secretary and and the the the president of the big climate change conference, cop 26, who’s a cabinet minister, and many more. You know we, i think in society, you break those ceilings by uh, ensuring that people understand that there are no limits to how far they can go and race religion, sexual orientation. All the rest should have nothing to do with it at all and in in a way we’re demonstrating that through action, rather than just words, when you say a grant steps when you say that the prime minister hauled the social media companies uh in yesterday, that was A pre organized event: what we want to know is what has he told the social media companies to do know you have an online harms bill, it’s not going to come into law until next year at the earliest.
These football for all of the diversity in the cabinet we’ve all seen the disgusting abuse online and nobody understands why it isn’t immediately taken down those social media companies earn money every time someone looks at a piece of online abuse. So what has the prime minister done to tell the social media companies today yesterday to get rid of that abuse immediately? Yeah and look, i think, you’re absolutely right about the online world how it can be. You know the wild west and just you know, abuse of all kinds. I mean we saw we’ve seen this any public figure we’ll will know uh from their own social media timeline, uh. We and it’s it’s, not just racism. It goes beyond that as well and he had them in yesterday and said: look, you know you must take, you must take this stuff down and we will have legislation and you’re quite right, i’m afraid the legislative process passing laws does take time, but or this online Harms bill will tax you 10 of your global turnover. That is not trivial for these companies, so we do expect them to act now there you say well, you know it’s difficult for us to monitor everything. That’S being said, we don’t own what’s, written online, uh and we’re, saying to them. Look you’re, clever enough and smart enough to be able to, for example, weed out disinformation about covid online, which is one of the things they’ve been doing.
You should be able to pinpoint racism algorithms to handle much of that and if you don’t we’re, going to legislate, let’s, say we’re doing that anyway and it’s going to cost you dear so get on with it that’s what he said to them. There’S lots to ask you about this morning. Let’S move on to face masks, uh. That does seem to be kind of blowing back in the government’s face a bit i mean uh. It won’t be a legal requirement for anyone in england uh to wear them in a few days time already you’re seeing big challenges. Uh, we interviewed the mayor of london uh this morning. He is going to make it a prerequisite that you have to wear a mask on any form of london, transport and he’s, going to enforce that with his transport officers. I mean that is a direct challenge to what boris johnson has said. I know mr johnson has said we’d like you to keep wearing the masks where you think it’s appropriate um, but you don’t have to it’s another piece of ambivalence isn’t it from the government. No, no, i look. I don’t agree at all. I was doing the round last week. I think he possibly even on your program. Although you went on saying um, we are, although we’re removing it from law, fully expecting and indeed invite individual transport operators uh to do what is right in their circumstance. So, for example, we saw the airlines come forward and say you will need to wear a face covering if you’re traveling by air – and i think i even mentioned london underground – may well decide that as a condition of travel.
They may require it. Why? Well? They have very crowded services a lot of the time, so it makes sense. On the other hand, if you’re on a long distance, train middle of the night – or you know later in the evening or something you’re, the only person in the carriage uh, the the law would clearly be a bit of nonsense. If we carried on requiring people to wear face coverings for no reason, so this is not only what you know we we thought would happen is what i said. Uh would and should it was about personal responsibility. You’Ve now changed. This is now about the transport, company’s responsibility, transport authorities and use the the term a condition of carriage, and we see that in other ways as well. It doesn’t cause confusion, for example. Actually, when boris johnson was mayor, he brought in a condition of carriage. That said, if you went on the london underground, you must not be drinking alcohol on the underground it’s, a condition of carriage on a long distance journey. If you’re having a snack or a meal, you could still have alcohol, so you would expect the travel companies or the travel authorities to introduce those conditions of carriage and indeed invited them to to do that. So when, when the mayor says that’s required for london underground that’s exactly what we invited the mayor to do if he felt that was appropriate for tfl or london, one last question about the astrazeneca vaccine, because there is a story on the front of the daily telegraph.
This morning that british holiday makers are being barred from even getting on flights to certain countries because they have received the indian made version of the astrazeneca vaccine and that is not licensed in the eu. Now are you going to suggest to holiday makers that they check uh, which version of the astro zenica vaccine they have, or are you immediately going to the eu and saying this is outrageous yeah? The specific issue on the front of the telegraph is with reference to uh, malta and uh. There is a sort of error in interpretation here, because uh there’s, a uh uh the serum institute in india. That makes a couple of different versions of uh vaccines. The version of the oxford astrazeneca vaccine is 100 compliant our medicines agency, the mhra have said as much and, of course, we’ll be contacting the maltese to point out. There is no difference um, they do make a different version, uh, which isn’t recognized by our medicines agency, and i think there may be some confusion there, uh that the maltese authorities um think that we may have provided that version we haven’t and so of course, we’ll. Be in contact with them to try and straighten this out ultimately it’s their decision. We we, we can’t, tell them uh what to do, but we’ve certainly set out the facts right well, that’s, that’s, clear, listen, we’d like to finish with a little boy: uh dexter, he’s. Nine who we interviewed about an hour ago on the program he’s the little boy who wrote the letter to marcus rashford you’ll, be very well aware of it.
Um, giving him comfort um for missing the penalty and he’s gone on to write a lot more letters since and he’s been following the debate on these awful racist, uh tweets and posts, and racism generally in the country, and this is the letter that he’s uh he Sent to the prime minister, dear boris johnson, i dexterously, i do not think you are doing enough about racial abuse. Personally, i think racial abuse online should lead to many people being banned from social media. If it’s happening face to face, it should lead to warning of prison or other consequences from dexter rosie at age. Nine he’s saying basically that he’s not doing enough the prime minister’s not doing enough yeah. Well, i mean first of all the the uh that what a fantastic letter the prime minister absolutely is uh working flat out to defeat racism in this country. Um i mentioned before, i think we’ve got the most diverse cabinet in the country. One of the things you can do to stop racism is make clear that there is no place in society even at the highest echelons of running the country. I think that’s really important, and yesterday he hauled in those social media companies you’re right that, unfortunately, changing laws in this country takes quite a while to do. We have to go all the way through the democratic processes of votes in parliament and the rest of it, but we’re on the case and in the meantime there is something the social media companies can do about it and we want them to do it.
I should point out that one other aspect of this is that some of this abuse is coming internationally in maybe even automated stirring up some of this as well, where we can identify where the social media companies can identify people in the united kingdom. They should have no hesitation to boot them off and see them with the full force of the law. Well, we do we’re finishing now, but we know that boris johnson is a very busy man, obviously he’s the prime minister, but will you make sure that he answers dex’s letter? Yes, absolutely we’ll make sure that happens.