Tories slammed for making migration meme out of BBC presenter giving middle finger

Tory MPs including Tobias Ellwood and Alicia Kearns have asked their own party take the post down

Barney Davis
Thursday 07 December 2023 18:01 GMT
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Unblurred - BBC News presenter caught off-guard in live on-air blunder

The Conservative Party has been told to “grow up” after it tried to make a meme out of a swearing BBC presenter to criticise Labour on immigration.

On Wednesday Maryam Moshiri, one of the broadcaster’s chief presenters, could be seen holding up her middle finger to the camera as she came back on screen for the midday bulletin. Ms Moshiri quickly realises she is live and swipes her hand away in a flash before going on to read out the headlines about Boris Johnson at the Covid Inquiry.

The Conservative Party’s official Twitter account used the viral image in attempt to attack the opposition, using the caption: “Labour when you ask for their plans to tackle illegal migration.”

Maryam Moshiri was caught giving the middle finger to the camera

But a backlash swiftly followed, with a number of the party’s own MPs asking for it to be removed, a request that has so far been ignored.

On Thursday evening, Alicia Kearns wrote: “Amazed this has not - despite requests - been taken down, it is beneath us”. Tobias Ellwood also posted a tweet asking for it to be deleted.

X users hit back with their own memes, including one of former education minister Andrea Jenkyns giving protesters the finger as she entered Downing Street last year.

“We are being governed by 14-year-olds,” one wrote, another adding: “This will have cost you votes. Keep digging that hole, you’re about to hit lava.”

Labour MP for Luton Sarah Owen replied: I see [deputy party chairman] Lee Anderson has control of the Tory twitter account. They’ve clearly given up. A general election can’t come soon enough. #GTTO (Get The Tories Out)”.

Others pointed to how net migration has risen under Tory rule, to 745,000 in 2022, the highest figure ever recorded.

In 2019 the Conservative Party manifesto pledged to bring net migration levels down from where they were at the time, at about 250,000 per year. The Tories have been plunged into crisis over the issue again this week, with immigration minister Robert Jenrick quitting over a flagship plan to deport

Ms Moshiri says gaffe was ‘private joke’ not intended to be viewed by public

Ms Moshiri apologised on X on Thursday morning, saying she had been joking around with the team, pretending to count down using her fingers.

“When we got to 1 I turned [my] finger around as a joke and did not realise that this would be caught on camera,” she wrote.

“It was a private joke with the team and I’m so sorry it went out on air! It was not my intention for this to happen and I’m sorry if I offended or upset anyone. I wasn’t ‘flipping the bird’ at viewers or even a person really. It was a silly joke that was meant for a small number of my mates,” she said, adding a “face palm” emoji.

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