Tory MP David Davies Says Hate Crimes Must Not Be 'Exaggerated'

He accused some of trying to 'stop legitimate political debate'.
<strong>David Davies</strong>
David Davies
Matthew Horwood via Getty Images

A Conservative MP who was one of the leading Brexit campaigners in Wales has criticised people for “exaggerating” the spike in hate crimes reported before and after the EU referendum.

David Davies attacked those who were using the incidents to “build a narrative” to silence Brexiters and shut down “legitimate political debate”.

The Monmouth MP, who recently led calls for child refugees from Calais to have dental checks to prove their age, said it was wrong to blame senior politicians who backed Brexit for the spike in hate crime.

Between June 16 and 30, 3,198 hate crimes were reported - 42% more than were reported in the same period in 2015. The highest number of hate crimes was reported on June 25, the day after the result was declared, when 289 reports were made.

A UN body was among those who laid the blame at politicians’ “divisive, anti-immigrant and xenophobic” rhetoric during the EU referendum campaign.

Nick Lowles, chief executive of charity Hope Not Hate, said earlier this week that there was a deliberate stratergy by Nigel Farage and Leave.EU founder Arron Banks “to use emotion - to deliberately highlight immigration, sovereignty, nationality as a tool to wind people up”.

<strong>Police have recorded a sharp increase in hate crime year-on-year</strong>
Police have recorded a sharp increase in hate crime year-on-year
Joe Giddens/PA Wire

But Davies rebutted the claim on Wednesday. He told a group of MPs at an All Party Parliamentary Group on Race in Westminster: “I do worry that there’s a narrative building.

“I see in this room, I look out and I know most of the people here probably think I’m the enemy, and I understand most of you probably didn’t support Brexit.

“I worry that some of you are trying to build a narrative - that those of us that did are some how responsible for the hate crimes that have taken place and it is not true.

“There has been an increase in hate crimes against people who are disabled - that’s got nothing to do with Brexit. There’s been an increase in crimes against people who are Jewish - is that because of Bexit, is it because of Momentum, is it because of the Palestinian groups?

“I also want the right to be able to express my opinion in a reasonable way without people trying to build a narrative which says ‘You, Mr Davies, have a view we don’t agree with.

“’And some idiots, Mr Davies, have committed acts of violence against other people.

“’And even though we can’t link them with you, we’re now going to use this as an excuse to try and silence you and stop you expressing a view that is shared, whether you like it or not in this room, by 17 million people - a majority of people in this country.’”

He added: “We must all condemn all hate crimes, whoever carries them out against whichever groups of people they’re carried out against. But please don’t try and use this as a means to stop legitimate political debate in this country.”

The backbencher also discussed how he was married to a a woman from Eastern European and had mixed-race relatives.

He said: “My wife has lived here for 15 years. She has never ever experienced a hate crime of any sort because she comes from Eastern Europe. But of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t happen.”