WATCH: Badenoch Slams Online Safety Bill, Promises to Champion Free Speech

Kemi Badenoch is hitting the ground running in the leadership contest. She’s just wrapped up her first big speech since announcing her campaign, appearing in front of overheating hacks, MPs and politicos at Riverside Advisory’s “Parliamentary Event in Support of Freedom of Expression”An event which she was already scheduled to appear at even before she decided to make a run for the top job: “now that I’m not a Minister, my speech has changed slightly…”

Inevitably Badenoch was keen to flesh out her free speech bona fides:

Free speech is no longer something we can take for granted as a commonly shared value… and this shift in attitudes has [led]there have been many incidents in universities of events disrupted […] because their views are 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…”

With that, someone in the audience quipped “are you sure?”, to which a grinning Badenoch fired back “I’m sure. I’m a woman. I know what a woman is.” Unanimous cheers for that one…

For the avoidance of doubt, Badenoch also made it clear she won’t support the Online Safety Bill, at least in its current form:

“It is wrong and dangerous to limit free speech… the Online Safety Bill is going to have some serious implications for free speech. I have supported the government in every single bill since becoming an MP. I’m not going to be supporting it this week in its present form.”

Not quite a promise to scrap it entirely… yet. Still, a strong opening pitch. Badenoch is the candidate Labour would most struggle to fight against…

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