Minister denies Government ‘politicising’ extremism after call for consensus

Tom Tugendhat has denied the Government is politicising extremism after three former Conservative home secretaries called for cross-party consensus in tackling the problem.

The security minister defended Rishi Sunak’s speech outside Downing Street earlier this month in which the Prime Minister warned of an increase in “disruption and criminality” in Britain.

As Communities Secretary Michael Gove prepares to announce a new Government definition of extremism, the group warned parties not to use the problem to score political points in the run-up to an election.

During broadcast interviews on Monday, Mr Tugendhat said he “absolutely” agreed with the statement and it is “exactly what we’re doing”.

He said: “We’re making sure that extremism doesn’t spread hatred in our community.

“Now, of course we need ideas, of course we need a challenge of thought, but what we also need to do is make sure that people are safe in our country, and that they’re not led down the path of radicalisation.”

Rishi Sunak press conference
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak giving a press conference in Downing Street, London (Aaron Chown/PA)

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re Labour or Conservative, whether you’re Jewish or Muslim, whether you’re Christian or atheist.”

Mr Tugendhat declined to say whether he had echoed the Prime Minister’s suggestion that Britain was descending into “mob rule” in his own comments on extremism, telling BBC Breakfast: “We all speak in our own way and about various different issues.”

Downing Street later said that the Prime Minister “agrees with those former home secretaries that we should not be using extremism to score political points”.

“The PM has made very clear that it is the Government’s intention to stand up for the UK’s position as a patriotic, liberal, democratic society, and we denounce those on all sides who seek to spread hate and poison,” Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said.

It comes as the Home Office announced more than £117 million of funding to protect mosques, Muslim schools and community centres from hate attacks over the next four years.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said the money, which will be spent on measures including CCTV cameras, alarms and fencing, would give “reassurance and confidence to UK Muslims”.

The announcement, which follows a £70 million package for Jewish groups, comes in response to concerns that the war in Gaza is fuelling division in the UK.

It was made at the start of Ramadan and will cover community sites across the UK.

The Government condemned a recent rise in reported anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hatred and ministers have made it clear they expect the police to fully investigate all hate crimes and work with the Crown Prosecution Service to bring perpetrators to justice.

But a plan to announce a new adviser on tackling anti-Muslim hate suffered a setback when the frontrunner pulled out because of the volume of vile abuse he had endured.

Fiyaz Mughal, who founded the anti-Muslim hate monitoring organisation Tell MAMA, said he had been targeted over his work for years, which escalated when his name was publicly linked to the role and “I couldn’t take it any more”.

Number 10 said there was no update to share yet on the appointment process but condemned the abuse.

“The reported abuse that the individual you cite suffered is obviously unacceptable and it demonstrates exactly why we do need to tackle those who are using hatred and intimidation in order to influence our democratic processes,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –