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Rishi Sunak vows to tackle ‘woke nonsense’ and ‘left-wing agitators’

Rishi Sunak has vowed to stand up to ‘left-wing agitators’ in a bid to win over Tory members (Peter Nicholls/PA)
Rishi Sunak has vowed to stand up to ‘left-wing agitators’ in a bid to win over Tory members (Peter Nicholls/PA)

Rishi Sunak has vowed to review the Equalities Act to stop the “woke nonsense” it has allowed to “permeate public life”.

While claiming he has “zero interest in fighting a so-called culture war”, the Tory leadership hopeful pledged to “end the brainwashing, the vandalism and the finger pointing” and “protect British freedoms” if he becomes prime minister.

In his latest policy announcement to woo Tory party members who will decide whether he or rival Liz Truss get the keys to No 10, Mr Sunak promised to stand up to “left-wing agitators”.

The former chancellor, a father of two daughters, wants to preserve gendered words such as “woman” or “mother” by ensuring sex means biological sex in the 2010 Equality Act, and clarify that gender self-identification does not have legal force.

Mr Sunak previously made this aim clear in the first public policy pledge of his leadership bid, when he said he would oppose biological males being allowed to compete against women in sport and protect single-sex services.

He also wants to strengthen statutory guidance for schools on how they teach issues of sex and relationships so that pupils are “shielded from inappropriate material”.

Mr Sunak also promised to protect free speech by amending the Public Sector Equality Duty, which requires public bodies to consider discrimination.

This would be to ensure organisations “are open and welcoming” to people with differing political opinions and religious and philosophical world views, “putting a stop to practices such as no-platforming”, his campaign said.

He was expected to tell supporters in West Sussex on Saturday that his government would “safeguard our shared cultural, historical and philosophical heritage”.

“What’s the point in stopping the bulldozers in the green belt if we allow left-wing agitators to take a bulldozer to our history, our traditions and our fundamental values?

“Whether it’s pulling down statues of historic figures, replacing the school curriculum with anti-British propaganda, or rewriting the English language so we can’t even use words like ‘man’ ‘woman’ or ‘mother’ without being told we’re offending someone?

“It’s not us who are the aggressors; we have zero interest in fighting a so-called culture war.

“But we are determined to end the brainwashing, the vandalism and the finger pointing.

“Too often, existing legislation is used to engage in social engineering to which no one has given consent.

“The worst offender in this regard is the 2010 Equality Act, conceived in the dog days of the last Labour government.

“It has been a Trojan horse that has allowed every kind of woke nonsense to permeate public life.

“It must stop. My government would review the Act to ensure we keep legitimate protections while stopping mission creep.

“Our laws must protect free speech, block biological men from competing in women’s sport and ensure that children are allowed to be children.”

Ms Truss has also spoken out in favour of single-sex spaces, telling a hustings audience on Thursday that she backs a policy that guarantees schoolgirls can go to a toilet in a safe environment.

“I’ve been very clear that single sex spaces should be protected,” she said.