Andrea Leadsom's 'patriotic' comments were 'sinister' says former Lib Dem leader

Andrea Leadsom's call for broadcasters to be more patriotic has been branded sinister by Tim Farron.
Andrea Leadsom's call for broadcasters to be more patriotic has been branded sinister by Tim Farron.
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A Northamptonshire MP's  calls for broadcasters to be more "patriotic" during a Newsnight interview saw her branded "sinister" by the former Liberal Democrat leader.

Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom - who was a leading light in last June's national Leave campaign - faced a grilling from BBC presenter Emily Maitlis on Friday night regarding the slow pace of Brexit negotiations a year on from the EU referendum.

Tim Farron.

Tim Farron.

But the Northamptonshire South MP hit back by saying: "It would be helpful if broadcasters were willing to be a bit patriotic."

"The country took a decision, this Government is determined to deliver on that decision."

Her comment drew a swift response from the BBC broadcaster, who replied: "Are you accusing me of being unpatriotic for questioning how negotiations are going, questioning whether you have the position of strength that she said she wanted?"

Mrs Leadsom then added: "I'm not accusing you of anything, Emily. I'm simply saying we all need to pull together as a country."

But the former Liberal Democrat leader, who quit a fortnight ago because he felt ‘remaining faithful to Christ’ was incompatible with being party leader, called Mrs Leadsom's comments 'stupid'.

Mr Farron branded the comments 'stupid' and called on Mrs Leadsom to apologise.

"This is a sinister threat to the free media," he told the Independent.

"How dare Andrea Leadsom tell the press what they should think, this isn't a George Orwell book."

"She needs to apologise for these comments and realise what she said was frankly stupid."

In a statement released to coincide with the year anniversary of the Brexit vote, Mrs Leadsom said the Conservative government was "embracing" the opportunity to "ensure our future prosperity".

"We are in such a strong position to make the most of this opportunity," she said. "We are one of the world's largest economies, with great natural advantages including our language, legal system, the fantastic City of London, and our great trading history and creative and engineering talents."