NEWS
11/01/2019 13:27 GMT

Stop What You're Doing And Watch Owen Jones' Spectacular Confrontation With Andrew Neil

"Your smears and lies about me are not going to be dealt with tonight."

Thursday’s episode of This Week left viewers stunned after journalist Owen Jones and host Andrew Neil became embroiled in a spat which swiftly escalated into a full-on shouting match.

The pair were discussing whether or not the media was partly responsible for the rise of the far-right in the UK, in light of the alarming incidents of MPs and journalists – including Jones himself – being verbally abused outside Westminster in recent weeks.

The discussion got off to a positive start when Neil praised the “huge courage and dignity” Jones demonstrated in his video of the incident.

Then things got heated, to say the least.

Jones attempted to criticise The Spectator, of which Neil is the chairman, for its coverage of Muslims, immigration and the far right.

The spat – which appeared to leave fellow guests Michael Portillo and Liz Kendall speechless – then continued on Twitter on Friday with numerous other journalists and commentators chipping in.

Here’s the exchange in full:

OWEN JONES: ”Anna Soubry and I were called traitors. When a far-right fanatic killed Jo Cox, they said ‘death to traitors’.”

″[Phrases like] ‘Traitor’, ‘enemies of the people’ and ‘crush the saboteurs’, all end up on the front page of newspapers and then are regurgitated by these people.”

“You are beyond naive if you think the media doesn’t have a role in it.”

ANDREW NEIL: “I am many things Owen Jones, but I am not naive.”

JONES: “You are. The Spectator is a classic example...”

NEIL: “I knew you were going to bring that up and I won’t let you hijack [the BBC]. Your smears and lies about me are not going to be dealt with tonight so just move off it. I’m not going to let you hijack the BBC to do this, it’s got nothing to do with them.”

JONES: “I will finish my point about The Spectator.”

NEIL: “You won’t.”

JONES: “That magazine has defended Greek neo-Nazis.”

NEIL: “No it hasn’t.”

JONES: “It has...”

NEIL: “No, you’ve ran out of time, you’ve failed to answer the question.”

JONES: “Well, everyone can look at the record of The Spectator which has incited racism against Muslims and refugees and backed Greek neo-Nazis.”

As he reiterated on Twitter on Friday, Jones was referring to a number of articles featured in The Spectator including one which defended the Greek neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn.

Jones’ stance during the interview was defended by a number of other commentators including LBC host James O’Brien and the Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr. 

But Mail on Sunday commentator, Dan Hodges, said in a tweet that the “most high-profile and influential racism in British politics is still to be found in the anti-Semitism of the Labour Party”.

The comment echoes another major public spat this week in which Rachel Riley told George Galloway to “fuck off” in a heated spat over anti-semitism and the Labour Party

Neil has since reiterated his point made during the show that as chairman of The Spectator, he is not responsible for the articles that appear in it.

Jones and Conservative MP Anna Soubry were both harassed by protesters in favour of Brexit earlier this week.

Theresa May has condemned the threats of violence and intimidation and said politicians and the media should be able to “go about their work without harassment and intimidation” as tensions heightened in Westminster.