Three ex-Home Secs urge Labour and Tories to work together on extremism as Gove's new definition looms

10 March 2024, 21:38

Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Amber Rudd
Three former Home Secretaries have called for a cross-party consensus on new extremism laws . Picture: Alamy

By Chay Quinn

Three former Home Secretaries have called for a cross-party consensus on new extremism laws - as Priti Patel, Sajid Javid and Amber Rudd warn against a 'political football' over hatred ahead of the general election.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Dame Priti, Sir Sajid and Ms Rudd are among the signatories to a statement calling for "as broad a consensus as possible" in tackling extremism from Islamists, far-right groups and others.

Communities Secretary Michael Gove is preparing to announce a new definition of extremism to tackle a rise in Islamist and far-right ideologies in Britain in recent years.

Read More: London has become a 'no-go zone for Jews on weekends,' government extremism adviser claims

The group spearheaded by the Conservative grandees urged Labour and the Tories to "work together to build a shared understanding" of the problem.

Other signatories include Neil Basu, the former head of counter-terrorism policing, and ex-head of the army General Lord Dannatt.

London, UK. 4th Mar, 2024. Priti Patel is seen outside Global Radio Credit: Richard Lincoln/Alamy Live News
Dame Priti (pictured), Sir Sajid and Ms Rudd are among the signatories to a statement calling for "as broad a consensus as possible" in tackling extremism from Islamists, far-right groups and others. Picture: Alamy

The Government's adviser on political violence Lord Walney, antisemitism adviser Lord Mann - both former Labour MPs - and social cohesion adviser Dame Sara Khan also backed the call.

The statement said: "Keeping citizens safe is the first responsibility of government. So dealing with extremism is essential given the real threats from Islamist extremists, far-right extremists and others.

"It requires as broad a consensus as possible if we are to be successful in marginalising and defeating it.

"In the run up to a general election it's particularly important that that consensus is maintained and that no political party uses the issue to seek short-term tactical advantage.

"We urge the Labour Party and the Conservative Party to work together to build a shared understanding of extremism and a strategy to prevent it that can stand the test of time, no matter which party wins an election.

Aberdeen, Scotland, UK. 2nd Mar, 2024. Scottish Conservative Conference 2024: Michael Gove speaking at the Scottish Conservative Conference at the P&J Live Events Venue, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK Credit: Kay Roxby/Alamy Live News
Communities Secretary Michael Gove is preparing to announce a new definition of extremism to tackle a rise in Islamist and far-right ideologies in Britain in recent years. Picture: Alamy

"Our country is most effective in tackling extremism when it does it together."

The statement was also backed by Dame Louise Casey, the former reviewer of social cohesion, former Labour communities secretary John Denham, Sunder Katwala of think tank British Future, and Brendan Cox, the co-founder of Survivors Against Terror.

Mr Cox, whose Labour MP wife Jo was murdered by a far-right extremist, said: "This is an extraordinary intervention from the country's foremost counter terror and extremism experts.

"The message is clear, if we are to tackle extremism effectively we have to do it together. It can't be used as a political football, especially not in the run up to an election. Some things are too important."

Meanwhile, more than 50 victims of Islamist-inspired terror attacks have signed a joint letter calling for an end to anti-Muslim hate.

Brendan Cox
The statement was also backed by Dame Louise Casey, the former reviewer of social cohesion, former Labour communities secretary John Denham, Sunder Katwala of think tank British Future, and Brendan Cox (pictured), the co-founder of Survivors Against Terror. Picture: Alamy

They say it is the "height of irresponsibility" for some politicians to equate "being Muslim with being an extremist".

"The single most important thing we can do is to isolate the extremists and the terrorists from the vast majority of British Muslims who deplore such violence," the letter adds.

Signatories include survivors and relatives of those killed in attacks in the UK and around the world.

The letter, signed by 58 survivors, says they are "only too aware" of the threat of "Islamist extremism", but added that it is wrong to conflate extremists with the vast majority of British Muslims.

"This is not only wrong in itself, it makes the job of the Islamist extremists easier and plays into the hands of terrorists. We also know where anti-Muslim hate can lead.

"While Islamist-inspired extremism is our country's most pressing terror threat, it is not our only one - and responding to it by feeding far-right extremism, dividing our communities and exaggerating the risk will feed a cycle of extremism that will put more people at risk.

"It is the height of irresponsibility."

The signatories include Rebecca Rigby, whose husband Lee was killed by two extremists outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, in May 2013, and Magen Inon, whose parents were killed in Hamas's attack on Israel in October 7 last year.

Justine Merton-Scott, a survivor of the attack on the Bataclan theatre in Paris in November 2015, and Michelle Hussain, a survivor of the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017 also signed.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Prince William offered a consoling message after England's loss

'It just wasn’t meant to be': Prince William offers consoling message after England's loss in Euro 2024 final

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice

Amanda Abbington recalls 'tough and horrible' Strictly experience as she was left 'vomiting and crying' after rehearsals

Fans have been left in despair

Devastated England fans left holding their heads in despair after heartbreaking 2-1 defeat at Euros final

England lost to Spain in the Euro 2024 final

England's heartbreak as Spanish goal four minutes from time seals Euro 2024 final defeat

Prince William and Prince George at the Euro 2024 final

Smiling Prince George attends Euro 2024 final with Prince William as England face off against Spain

Kate with Charlotte at Wimbledon

Princess Kate looks radiant in purple as she presents Wimbledon trophy at men's final

Corey Comperatore was killed during the Trump rally attack.

Pictured: Man killed in shooting at Trump rally as he 'tried to shield family from bullets'

Carlos Alcaraz has retained his Wimbledon title

Carlos Alcaraz retains Wimbledon title as he beats Novak Djokovic for second year in a row

England are facing Spain in the final

England 1-2 Spain: Heartbreak for England as Spain win Euros 2024

Melania Trump shared an emotional statement on the incident

Melania Trump breaks silence after attempted assassination of husband Donald at rally

The wife and two daughters of racing commentator John Hunt were killed at their Hertfordshire home

Bereaved racing commentator John Hunt has fundraiser set up after wife and two daughters killed

Princess Kate has made just her second appearance since her cancer diagnosis - as she prepares to bestow the Wimbledon men's singles trophy at the All England Club.

Princess Kate arrives at Wimbledon as crowd applauds for royal's second engagement since cancer shock

Donald Trump was shot at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania yesterday

‘We will FEAR NOT’: Trump urges Americans to ‘stay united’ after attempted assassination

Graziano Di Prima has broken his silence

Strictly pro Graziano Di Prima allegedly 'spat, kicked and berated' Zara McDermott before sacking

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campaign event in Butler, Pa., on Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gunshots and a defiant fist: How the first attempted assassination against a Presidential candidate in 52 years unfolded

What will following the shooting of Donald Trump?

Donald Trump shot during campaign rally: Jon Sopel explains what it means for the US Presidential race