Risk to freedom of expression!’ Lord Frost leads Tory revolt against Online Safety Bill

Lord Frost is grilled on possibility he’d run for Prime Minister

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Lord Frost, 56, only resigned as the UK’s Brexit Minister over Covid restrictions in December but has already found himself leading the charge against the Government’s legislative agenda. The ex-CEO of the Scotch Whiskey Association, who is said to have been an ally to the 50-year-old former Number 10 advisor Dominic Cummings, hasn’t been afraid to take aim at his former boss Boris Johnson, 57, since leaving the Cabinet.

He called on the Prime Minister to sack Downing Street’s “woke crowd” in a post-partygate clear out.

Speaking to the Telegraph about his latest crusade, Lord Frost said: “The Government would be wise to take a fresh look at the Online Safety Bill before beginning discussion in Parliament.

“Aspects of it present a real risk to freedom of expression in this country.

“It clearly hasn’t been properly thought through in all its aspects and it would be better to pause, have further discussion, and get things right.”

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The Online Safety Bill is set to require social media firms to block and remove any illegal content, including terrorist material and child abuse images.

The Government is scheduled to publish the Bill before Easter.

Ex-security minister Sir John Hayes, 63, also voiced reservations about the bill.

Despite backing a ban on porn, gambling, self-harm and similar content, the South Holland & the Deepings said: “It is very important in the proper effort to control the excesses of the internet that we don’t allow free speech to be inhibited by woke prejudices about what views are acceptable.”

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis, 73, who has previously put pressure on Mr Johnson to resign as Prime Minister, warned the Government could face “problems” in the Commons if it sought to regulate legal but harmful content.

Mr Davis said: “The proposed legal action on legal but harmful [content] represents a massive misunderstanding of the way the web works.

“It represents a massive misunderstanding of the importance of free speech.”

The ex-chairman of the European Research Group Steve Baker, 50, added: “Some people will take offence at more or less anything – does that make it harmful?

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“Once again, we see a lack of clarity that could be profoundly dangerous [to free speech].”

A Government spokesman has since told the Telegraph: “This Bill follows years of intensive work, extensive drafting and has been subject to pre-legislative scrutiny via a joint committee of both houses.

“Following feedback from a range of stakeholders it includes strong protections to uphold freedom of speech and prevent social media platforms arbitrarily removing content.

“Delaying its introduction will only hold back putting much-needed accountability on tech platforms to keep children and the vulnerable safe online.”

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