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Right-wing Extremism

Volume 657: debated on Monday 1 April 2019

As Home Secretary, I have been clear that far-right extremism has no place in Britain. The Government take this issue very seriously, and it is routinely discussed by Ministers. Earlier this month, the inter-ministerial group on safe and integrated communities, which I chair along with the Communities Secretary, discussed the threat we faced from extremism, including the far right.

On Friday, outside many of our offices, on a specially erected stage, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon addressed crowds, while many parliamentary staff were trying to get home. Staff were told to leave but at times that put them directly into that crowd. At the rally, there were Generation Identity activists and organisations that had received money from the Christchurch killer and a convicted leader of the Ulster Defence Association, and the media were physically attacked. Will the Home Secretary urgently investigate with the Met police how a convicted far-right leader and such groups were allowed to whip up hate right outside Parliament?

Sadly, as the hon. Gentleman points to, there have been many instances of abuse and intimidation of Members, especially in recent weeks. All Members should be able to go about their business with complete confidence—[Hon. Members: “Staff.”] Of course, all staff as well—everyone who works in the cradle of our democracy. It is important that the police, both the Met police and local police forces, and the House authorities work together, which they are doing. I had a meeting just last week with police, officials and others to see what more we could do.

Extremism in all its forms is often whipped up by social media. To what extent can the Home Office engage with social media to try to counter that?

We are already engaging with social media companies, especially the US giants that dominate the sector. I have met their representatives both here and abroad to discuss, in particular, terrorists and terrorism-related extremist content. However, the Government recognise that more needs to be done, which is why we will shortly publish the online harms White Paper.

The Home Secretary will be aware of recent reports that right-wing extremists are gaining access to ISIS-related terrorist training materials. The House should be aware that just as there is a terrorist threat from supporters of grotesque organisations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda, there is also a growing threat from the far right, which includes the threat of acts of terrorism. It has been reported that senior Home Office officials, Scotland Yard and the security agencies have met senior representatives of both the Muslim and Jewish communities. Will the Home Secretary confirm that those meetings have taken place, and will he tell us what reassurances he was able to provide?

As my hon. Friends have said, there is grave concern in the Muslim community in the light of the Christchurch massacre and the subsequent attacks on mosques in Birmingham. Can the Home Secretary assure us that funds will be available for the security of mosques and other Muslim places of worship, in the same way as they are available through the Community Security Trust for the security of synagogues? Is he aware that there are many Muslim community centres like my own North London Muslim Community Centre, which is next door to the mosque and forms part of the same complex of buildings? The people there feel very threatened. Is the Home Secretary prepared to consider helping them with funds for their necessary security?

I share the concerns that the right hon. Lady has expressed. Everyone in the House will understand why there are heightened concerns in our British Muslim communities, and why we need to do more. Soon after the Christchurch massacre, I sent “Dear colleague” messages to all Members about the immediate action that we are taking in increasing the funding for places of worship.

The right hon. Lady rightly raised the issue of Muslim community centres. I want to work with Muslim community leaders and others and to listen to what they say about what needs to be done. I think that all Members are united in their wish to ensure that our Muslim community in Britain, whom we cherish, feel hugely valued and receive the protection that they deserve. No one should feel intimidated in any way whatsoever.