Tom Hunt gained some attention when he spoke at the fringes of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester earlier this month. and said it is “not xenophobic” to want town centres not to feel like a “foreign country”.
On Tuesday night, Ridge asked the MP for Ipswich: “What do you mean by that?”
He replied: “If you walk into your town centre, you’re hearing people speaking English is almost a rarity.”
Ridge hit back: “That’s not what people find, come on – 88% of people in Ipswich have English as their main language.”
The Office for National Statistics also concluded from the 2021 Census that 91.1% of usual residents aged three and over had English (or Welsh in Wales) as their main language.
A further 7.1% were proficient in English, even if it wasn’t their main language.
He claimed “lots of people feel that way,” adding: “I think there are examples where there’s a lack of integration.”
He said “diversity was a force for good”, but problems arise when people don’t “make the effort” to integrate.
Hunt continued: “If you have people in your town centre, your city centre, who are behaving in a way that isn’t in keeping with what people would expect from that area.”
Further pressed by Ridge, Hunt suggested not speaking English was just one example that there is not enough integration.
He also pointed to shop theft, claiming there was disproportionately one community behind it.
So Ridge asked for the data to back his claims up.
He just replied: “It’s something that no one disputes locally. There is analysis done.”
As Ridge continued to ask for evidence to support his theory, Hunt said: “Every single shop we went to said that.
“We’ve got to be open about that, it’s a challenge. We’ve got to work with that community in question to try and deal with that problem.”
He also claimed that was a “mainstream view shared by the majority of people in the country”.
The Ipswich MP said he’s received 200 emails since making those claims at conference – and an alleged 90% of those responses agreed with his remarks.