Farage rebuff over English speaking Oldham claim

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage claims parts of the UK are unrecognisable [PA Media]

Oldham's council leader has hit back at what she described as "stupid and inaccurate" comments made by Nigel Farage after the Reform UK leader said there were streets in the borough "where no-one speaks English".

Arooj Shah, Labour leader of Oldham Council, said: “Oldham is a town where people support each other, where community is at our heart, and we aren’t defined by his politics of hate."

Mr Farage defended his claim that British Muslims "do not share British values", giving Oldham as an example in an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He also claimed towns in the UK had ‘become virtually unrecognisable’ as a result of immigrants "who don’t integrate into the community".

'Offensive comments'

Mr Farage told the BBC: "I could take you to streets in Oldham where no-one speaks English... I have been there and even The Guardian agrees."

Ms Shah said: “The comments by Nigel Farage about Oldham are as stupid and inaccurate as they are offensive.

"In Oldham we are trying to fight back against 14 years of government cuts to public services and the cost of living crisis, like so many parts of the north."

She told The Local Democracy Reporting Service: “As Reform and the Conservative Party go to war with each other for a tiny slice of the British electorate, trying to antagonise and provoke hate and division to grab a handful of votes, residents in Oldham and across the UK want answers to the real issues facing people today."

Local Labour MP Jim McMahon added that the "vast majority of Oldhamers" are "hard-working people who want to accept and understand each other".

Arooj Shah
Arooj Shah said people support each other in Oldham [BBC]

Mr McMahon said: “We are not blind to the challenges but what we don’t accept is people trying to divide our town, pit communities against each other and stoke divisions – the worst type of politics which the people of Oldham are better than.

"Mr Farage does not speak for Oldham and what he is trying to do will not work.”

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Oldham Council