No more cash for activists who want to cancel British culture, says ESTHER MCVEY

John Cleese speaks out against 'cancel culture'

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The former work and pensions secretary has written to the Cabinet Office demanding an urgent review to uncover how much public money is funding politically motivated campaigners she accuses of “talking down Britain”. Today she is joining other Tory backbenchers to launch a new Britain Uncancelled campaign to tackle the spread of so-called cancel culture. The push, supported by the Blue Collar Conservative and Common Sense groups of Tory backbenchers, will target attempts to topple statues, stifle debate and smear icons such as Sir Winston Churchill as “racist”.

Ms McVey said she finds it “intolerable” that those “who seek to cancel our culture, hate Britain and want to muzzle the views of the British people” receive government funding.

MPs noted how the Arts and Humanities Research Council, a quango supported by the Department for Business, has handed up to £100,000 to an academic who denounced Winston Churchill as “a scourge” and “an imperialist horror”.

A separate grant of £325,000 went to another academic who claimed the Union flag “increases nationalism and feelings of superiority, rather than patriotism”.

Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense Group of Tory MPs, thinks it is “crucial” that Britain does not hide from its past.

He said: “The Government needs to do more to stand up for Britain’s patriotic majority that sees its cry for decency being drowned out by the shrill, incessant noise of the frenzied mob.”

Boris Johnson’s Government has already begun taking action to curb cancel culture after calls for Churchill’s statue and other historic monuments to be removed due to their connections to Britain’s imperial past.

A Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill seeking to guarantee free speech on university campuses is also currently being considered by Parliament.

But Ms McVey argues that the Bill does not go far enough.

She said: “There’s no point passing a flagship law to protect free speech, if we’re then taxing people to pay these politically motivated campaigners to undo it.

“We’ve got to listen and learn from each other, and from our history, not tear it down – and judge people and our country by the values it demonstrates today, not things that happened hundreds of years ago, that don’t define who we are any more.”

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: “All DCMS grant funding is provided in line with clear government guidelines, which include rules against spending taxpayers’ money on ineligible activities such as paid-for lobbying.”

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