Reform candidate loses cool on BBC at brutal query – ‘Absolute rubbish!’

A Reform UK candidate lost his cool live on-air after blasting an academic’s comments as “garbage” during a discussion about the teaching of history in schools.

Ben Habib, who is co-deputy leader of Nigel Farage’s party, spoke to Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Newsnight yesterday evening following the launch of Reform’s ‘contract with the people’ – a document packed with promises on immigration and tax cuts that they insist is not a manifesto. He appeared to become irritated at multiple points throughout the interview, with one segment questioning the party’s stance on the teaching of British history sparking a furious reaction.

Reform UK's Ben Habib had a tense interview on BBC Newsnight

Reform UK’s Ben Habib had a tense interview on BBC Newsnight

Ms Derbyshire said: “I’m going to put this quote to you if I may, from David Olusoga, British historian. I asked him for his reaction to what you’d written in your manifesto. He said this to me: Striving for balance in history is illiterate. This is not economics – this is about fomenting divisions in order to win votes.”

Mr Habib replied: “Absolute garbage! I’ll tell you what foments division – it is so-called notion of diversity, equality and inclusion, which is the regulatory and legal framework that government has put in place in order to champion and celebrate ethnic minorities, religious minorities and transgender ideology and all that sort of thing, over and above and largely to the detriment of the majority of the people in this country. It is kind of a form of reverse racism. That’s the kind of thing that needs to be got rid of, we would get rid of DEI and what we would require is that all people are recognised to be equal.”

Victoria Derbyshire repeatedly reminded Mr Habib that she was asking the questions

Victoria Derbyshire repeatedly reminded Mr Habib that she was asking the questions

He had also clashed with the host and tried to interrupt her in an earlier part of the interview over the NHS. She had asked him: “Do you not believe the think tank, the health think tank The King’s Fund, when they say spare capacity in the private sector is scarce”. He quickly cut her off and said: “Is this think tank advocating that you take no steps to addressing the fundamental shortage?”.

Ms Derbyshire quickly snapped back and said “I’m asking you a question! Rather than you asking me a question!”, to which he replied: “No! Because what you’re saying – and I find this discourse in politics and public policymaking – is that every journey is so demanding that you never take a step towards challenging the task in hand. The point is what they’re trying to say is that you can’t deal with it.” He then claimed his party would “stem the outflow” from frontline NHS staff before describing immigration as the elephant in the room – before being telling the Newsnight host that she “wasn’t letting me answer.”