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Co-op is fighting back against left-wing calls for companies to suspend advertising for GB News as the brand stood firm and defended the ‘editorial independence’ of the media

Co-op is fighting back against left-wing calls for companies to suspend advertising for GB News as the brand stood firm and defended the ‘editorial independence’ of the media.

A number of big name brands including IKEA, Nivea, Kopparberg, Grolsch, the Open University, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy and insurer LV have pulled their adverts from Andrew Neil’s new channel after an online campaign led by groups including Stop Funding Hate.

MPs, free speech campaigners and business leaders branded the companies ‘anti-democratic’ and ‘hypocritical’, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden declaring businesses ‘must not succumb to pressure groups’.

But Co-op has broken rank despite a huge online backlash, saying it will continue to advertise on the new TV channel, the first company to do so.

After being bombarded by activists demanding it suspend its TV campaigns on GB News, the supermarket responded: ‘Our advertising approach has three principles. 

‘We will, one – not seek to affect the editorial independence of publications or channels, two – not undermine the commercial value of our society for our members, and three, ensure our values and principles are clear regardless of surrounding content.’

The response prompted a number of critics to call for a boycott of Co-op while many others praised it for standing up for its principles amid the furore. 

Co-op is fighting back amid left-wing calls for companies to suspend advertising for GB News as the brand defended the 'editorial independence' of the media

Co-op is fighting back amid left-wing calls for companies to suspend advertising for GB News as the brand defended the ‘editorial independence’ of the media

After being bombarded by activists demanding it suspend its TV campaigns on GB News, the supermarket responded on Twitter

After being bombarded by activists demanding it suspend its TV campaigns on GB News, the supermarket responded on Twitter

GB News launched on Sunday promising to be anti-woke, pro-British and cover stories differently to rivals, with prime time shows already enjoying more viewers than BBC News and Sky News. 

But after just four days on air at least seven big businesses have pulled their adverts after a social media campaign whipped up by Stop Funding Hate.

A website BoycottGBNews.org has also been set up with the help of a business called ‘Ripples Campaigning’, which is run by former BBC senior content producer Louise Wikstrom whose social media posts have previously backed Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.

She told MailOnline: ‘Ripples is proud to take a stand against biased news through this campaign, together with thousands of supporters who have written to GB News’ advertisers to make their voices heard.’

But the Culture Secretary appealed for companies to not bow to the pressures of slot online mobs.

Mr Dowden told the Mail: ‘One of the cornerstones of our liberties is our robust, free and diverse media and GB News is a welcome addition to that diversity.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said businesses 'must not succumb to pressure groups' amid the online furore over the advertisers

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said businesses ‘must not succumb to pressure groups’ amid the online furore over the advertisers

‘As we’ve seen this week with the totally unacceptable harassment of a BBC journalist, we cannot take it for granted.

It is up to brands to advertise where they wish, but it would be worrying if they allow themselves to succumb to pressure groups.

‘They should note that GB News is regulated by Ofcom and held to the same high standards as every other broadcaster in the UK.’

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay branded the ad boycott of GB News as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘mad’, pledging to fight back against those businesses.

He told MailOnline: ‘I am now putting together a list of beers and household products that I will not be buying. This is all part of the closing down of free speech campaign which I am afraid we are seeing across our society. It must be resisted. It is an absolute abomination’.

He added: ‘Corporates should do what they do – sell things rather than get involved with political debates.’

Fellow Conservative backbencher Andrew Bridgen said: ‘This epitomises exactly what GB News was set up to counter.

The hard woke left wingers are seeking to cancel voices saying things they don’t approve of. Advertisers should do well to look at the viewing figures and remember that those who complain most on social media do not represent the mainstream view’.   

Tory MP Andrew Percy said: ‘It’s completely anti-democratic and an attempt to silence alternative views.

The UK has strict media rules which GB News is abiding by. If it’s good enough for the UK regulators, it should be good enough for the advertisers. These advertisers are essentially giving in to bullying by the mob.’

Dragons Den star Duncan Bannatyne told MailOnline he was ‘shocked’ at the hasty decision made by big businesses to pull adverts from GB News – just four days after a very successful launch.

The tycoon said that he would consider advertising his Bannatyne’s health clubs and gyms on the news channel because of its ‘great viewing figures’.

Slamming the cancel culture he said: ‘I am just shocked that such big organisations would cancel on a new untested TV news show. Competition is good for all businesses and TV shows need competition, so should be supported’.  He added: ‘I will never shop at IKEA again – oh just a minute, I never did shop there anyway’.

Trade unionist and journalist Paul Embery tweeted: ‘Stop Funding Hate is a sinister group whose ultimate aim is to prevent the dissemination of opinions with which they disagree.

Don’t let anyone pretend otherwise’.

GB News chairman Andrew Neil has also hit back at IKEA and its ‘criminal’ former French boss Jean-Louis Baillot. He said: ‘IKEA has decided to boycott GB News because of our alleged values. Here are IKEA’s values — a French CEO who is a criminal with a two year suspended jail sentence for spying on staff’. 

The news also sparked a consumer backlash today, with one viewer writing: ‘I’ve just completed my IKEA shelving unit.

It’s a bit shakey, has no real backbone to it and it definitely leans hard to the left. #BoycottIkea for boycotting GB NEWS… many can play at that game!’ 

A second tweeted: ‘To my dear wife, it will delight you to hear that I will no longer subject you to a tour of IKEA.

#boycott.’ 

Meanwhile, another Twitter user vowed to boycott all the companies who had withdrawn advertising and slammed Stop Funding Hate, saying that ‘stirring up hatred’ is the group’s ‘raison d’etre’. 

As GB News finds itself at the centre of the UK’s culture war, it also emerged:

  • Jennifer Saunders says Absolutely Fabulous wouldn’t be commissioned today in Britain’s ‘woke’ culture as she slams ‘small-mindedness’ for ruining comedy;
  • Boris Johnson’s former race adviser accused the Government of stoking a ‘culture war’ he claims will lead to murder on Britain’s streets and risking another Jo Cox or Stephen Lawrence tragedy;
  • The Church of England launched investigation into slave trade links of its £9.2billion investment fund that pays Archbishop of Canterbury’s £85,000-a-year wages; 
GB News chief Andrew Neil today hit back at IKEA and its 'criminal' former French boss Jean-Louis Baillot (right) as the firm pulled its adverts from the new TV channel

GB News chief Andrew Neil today hit back at IKEA and its 'criminal' former French boss Jean-Louis Baillot (right) as the firm pulled its adverts from the new TV channel

GB News chief Andrew Neil today hit back at IKEA and its ‘criminal’ former French boss Jean-Louis Baillot (right) as the firm pulled its adverts from the new TV channel 

Mr Neil had this message for IKEA last night and also retweeted messages calling the decision 'pathetic Woke virtue signalling' and accusing 'corporations making fools of themselves'

Mr Neil had this message for IKEA last night and also retweeted messages calling the decision ‘pathetic Woke virtue signalling’ and accusing ‘corporations making fools of themselves’

A website BoycottGBNews.org has also been set up by a business called 'Ripples Campaigning', which is run by former BBC worker Louise Wikstrom. It sets out six steps it hopes will sink the channel and urges social media users to share it online

A website BoycottGBNews.org has also been set up by a business called ‘Ripples Campaigning’, which is run by former BBC worker Louise Wikstrom.

It sets out six steps it hopes will sink the channel and urges social media users to share it online

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