“Perhaps they should move to another country if they prefer?”
Twitter users were quick to pounce on her biting assessment, with journalist Otto English commenting: “If you are not proud of the Union Jack you should move to another country. Just a Tory MP here.”
Meanwhile, political commentator Ash Sarkar tweeted: “Conservatives: the woke left are waging war on freedom of speech.
“Also Conservatives: immediate deportation if you roll your eyes during the national anthem.”
TV director and producer Nat Saunders played on the recent focus on statue protectionism, writing: “You know who else hates flags? Statues. Absolutely loathe flags, statues do. So what’s your stance NOW?”
And BBC News presenter – and proud Welshman – Huw Edwards posted a picture of himself standing defiantly in front of his country’s red dragon, with the caption: “Flags are now mandatory — very pleased with my new backdrop for BBC News at 10.”
He was later instructed, presumably by his bosses on the “impartiality” rampage, to remove the tweet.
Instead, he cheekily shared an image of a different flag which he claims is “one of his favourites”.
A number of commentators and social media users were outraged by Stayt’s sarcastic turn, with talkRadio host Mark Dolan asking: “Is patriotism a crime now? Why does the BBC have such a problem with Britain?"
Another Tory MP, Daniel Kawczynski, commented: “Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt making fun of Government Minister for proudly displaying British flag & Portrait of our Queen in his office so clearly demonstrates we really do need to abolish Licence fee.”
Meanwhile, scores of other Twitter users revelled in the playful quip, praising Stayt for the light-hearted joke.
However, co-host Naga Munchetty, who clearly also thought it was all just a bit of fun at first, later apologised.
“I ‘liked’ tweets today that were offensive in nature about the use of the British flag as a backdrop in a government interview this morning. I have since removed these ‘likes’,” she wrote on Friday morning.
“This do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken.”
She was swiftly defended on the platform by users who also shared their despair at Nici’s response.
“If Naga wants to laugh at a ridiculous man with a massive flag behind him (because it’s ridiculous he’s got one in the first place) she can,” commented author Emma Kennedy.
After the incident, Jenrick tweeted a photo of the flag next to the Queen with the comment: “We’re always proud to fly the Union Flag at [the ministry for Housing, Communities, and Local Government.
“It’s a symbol of liberty and freedom that binds the whole country together.”
His Cabinet colleague, James Cleverly MP, also complained about the taunt.
“It’s not a small flag,” he commented. “It’s in the far corner of the room.”