Hate preachers to be barred from UK after ‘shocking increase’ in extremism

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks about drawing the line on extremism on Friday
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks about drawing the line on extremism on Friday - Carl Court/Getty Images

Hate preachers will be blocked from entering the UK under new plans being drawn up by the Government amid a “shocking increase” in extremist activity.

Officials will identify the most dangerous extremists from countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia, so they can be added to visa warning lists. Under the plans, those on the list will be automatically refused entry to the UK.

Ministers also believe they can use existing national security powers to boost efforts to bar people from entering the UK who are deemed to be “non-conducive to the public good”. This could include blocking individuals who have a track record of preaching racism, incitement, or using intimidation or violence to undermine the democratic process.

Speaking on the steps of Downing Street on Friday evening, Rishi Sunak said the election of George Galloway as the MP for Rochdale was “horrifying” and that the rise in extremism demanded a response “from all of us”.

Barclays banks, like this one on Tottenham Court Road, have been targeted by Palestine groups
Barclays banks, like this one on Tottenham Court Road, have been targeted by Palestine groups - Jeff Gilbert

The Telegraph also understands that the Home Office is looking at proposals to clamp down on “far-Left anti-democratic” organisations amid warnings of an “unholy alliance” with Islamist groups.

The Metropolitan Police made 12 arrests at demonstrations in London yesterday.

Growing threat

An official review by Lord Walney, the Government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, calls on ministers to tackle the growing threat posed by fringe, Left-wing groups that have allied with Islamist extremists at pro-Palestine marches across the UK.

Lord Walney told The Telegraph: “One of the conclusions of my review is to look at and understand the threat from anti-democratic far-Left groups, alongside that posed by Islamists and the far Right.

“For understandable reasons, the focus since 9/11 has been on violent terrorism. Because the far-Left has not posed a similar kind of violent threat, there has been less understanding and less focus on the way in which they can harm our society.

“You are seeing an unholy alliance between far-Left groups and some of the Islamist extremism that has been seen on the marches.”

He said there needs to be a greater understanding, capacity and willingness to tackle far-Left groups “to protect our liberal democracy”.

Lord Walney’s report is currently being poured over by Home Office officials and is due to be published later this month.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Extremism has no place in our society and we will not tolerate tactics that set out to intimidate, threaten or cause disruption to the law-abiding majority.

“In recent months, we have also witnessed a small number of protestors display violent and hateful behaviour, and the police have our full support in tackling extremism and hate crime.

“We are considering the report’s recommendations extremely carefully and will respond in due course.”

Pro-Palestine protests continued across England and Wales on Saturday following Mr Sunak’s warning that demonstrations and democracy itself were being targeted by extremists.

Those who gathered outside the Houses of Parliament chanting From the River to the Sea, described by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism as “genocidal language”, were watched by about 30 officers.

Organised by the fringe Palestinian Pulse group, placards referred to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, as “Satanyahu” and another accused the British Government of being “complicit” in the deaths of “30,000 innocent Palestinians” in Gaza.

Met police made a number of arrests across London on Saturday
Met police made a number of arrests across London on Saturday - Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) singled out Barclays bank for its day of action, assembling at nearly 50 locations including the branch on Tottenham Court Road, in Central London.

Lord Walney said: “There is a gap in the Government’s understanding of damage that the anti-democratic far-Left can do.

“They are now at the forefront of the threat to our democratic institutions – by manipulating protest movements, hijacking them with extreme illegitimate protest methods – this is one of the hallmarks of a number of far-Left groups.”

His report calls for all mainstream political party leaders to instruct their MPs not to engage with any organisation that seeks to intimidate MPs or break the law to get their way.

He said that a message must be sent that “if you resort to these tactics, it’s not going to work”, adding: “You can’t on the one hand be encircling and menacing someone’s office, and then be invited in for a cup of tea and a chat. We need to do more to protect our democratic decision making.”

He said that the way the PSC has been “directly and aggressively” targeting MPs, shows that they are “at best, in the most generous interpretation, facilitating a level of militancy which is not acceptable”.