Government minister says some British Muslims do not support UK values

Some British Muslims “want to challenge” fundamental British values, a Foreign Office minister has said.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the “vast proportion” of British Muslims were “peace-loving, community-minded people”.

But there was a “very small proportion” that wanted to challenge the “values that we hold dear in the UK”, she added.

The senior Conservative was speaking to highlight her party’s plan to reintroduce a form of compulsory national service, which is in part aimed at building a “stronger national culture where everyone shares a commitment to improving our country”, according to Rishi Sunak’s party.

The plan would make it compulsory for 18-year-olds to either sign up for a 12-month placement with the armed forces or cyber defence, or commit to volunteering for one weekend a month in their community.

Home Secretary James Cleverly has suggested the programme was aimed at getting teenagers “out of their bubble” because too many “don’t mix with people of different religions, they don’t mix with different viewpoints”.

Reform UK honorary president Nigel Farage said there was a “growing number of young people in this country who do not subscribe to British values” and “loathe much of what we stand for”.

Asked about Mr Farage’s comments, Ms Trevelyan said she disagreed but told LBC Radio: “The vast proportion of British Muslims are wonderful, peace-loving, community-minded people, certainly in the North East where I’m based, we have fantastic communities and they are a really important part of our social fabric.

“There are a very small proportion for whom they want to challenge those values that we hold dear in the UK, which are British values, and there we need to continue to work in community to bring those people to this.

“The UK has incredible values of freedom of speech, freedom of choice … these are incredibly important values, but they have to be nurtured and looked after, and where there are those who would threaten them we need to make sure that we deal with that.”

She said it was not a problem specific to any religion: “There are people who do not wish to stand alongside the values and laws that we have, and we continue to have to defend those.”

Part of the reason for the national service programme was to ensure “our young people, as they move into adulthood, going forward, will understand that”.

She said: “It’s about all of us, all our young people, whatever their cultural background, their personal religious faith – or none –  they work together in community through volunteering, or through joining the armed forces for a year’s commission to be part of building their future UK.”

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said Mr Farage’s comments were “incendiary rhetoric”.

She told LBC Radio: “What I see when I visit schools, colleges, universities the length and breadth of the country is young people who are really hopeful and optimistic about the future, but also people who will often be making an enormous contribution to their own community – whether that’s through volunteering, young carers, people who are really committed and dedicated individuals.

“I think what we need in this election is a sense of how we bring our country together, how we focus on a more positive and hopeful mission for what our country can be – not this kind of division.”