Rishi Sunak would add 'vilification of UK' to extremism definition if he becomes prime minister

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

People who vilify the UK will be treated as extremists and could be referred to the government's Prevent programme if Rishi Sunak becomes prime minister.

In a new policy proposal to revive his flagging campaign, the Tory leadership hopeful has said he wants to widen the definition of extremism to include "those with an extreme hatred of our country".

His camp insist this would not include criticism of the government or any government policy, and would not be legally binding.

Politics Hub: Truss opens up huge poll lead in Tory leadership race

Mr Sunak also announced proposals to "refocus" Prevent on to Islamic extremism, after the programme to stop terrorism was criticised for focusing too much on right-wing threats.

The former chancellor said Islamic extremism is "by far and away the single largest terror threat to the UK's national security" and accused Prevent of "failing on this front".

Mr Sunak said: "There is no more important duty for a prime minister than keeping our country and our people safe.

"Whether redoubling our efforts to tackle Islamist extremism or rooting out those who are vocal in their hatred of our country, I will do whatever it takes to fulfil that duty."

Read more:
Sixty kids a week referred to Prevent programme

Extremism is defined in the 2011 Prevent strategy as "vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs".

It also covers "calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas".

Mr Sunak believes extremists do not just want to attack the UK's values "but also the country's very existence".

His supporters say expanding the definition of extremism will ensure those with "extreme hatred of our country" who pose a risk to national security "can be identified and diverted away from a destructive path".

Subscribe to the Daily on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

The leadership contender also promised to "weed out and cut off organisations that are promoting extremism in the UK" by conducting an audit on third-party organisations.

And he has pledged to create a new offence of encouraging terrorism in a prison cell - even if it contained only two inmates - and pass the Bill of Rights to make it easier to separate terrorists from the general prison population.

It comes as Mr Sunak appears to have lost ground against rival Liz Truss, with a YouGov poll last night showing she has extended her lead over him to 34 points.

Read more:
Sunak pledges 'radical' tax cut as ballots drop on doorsteps of voters

As the leadership race continues to heat up, Mr Sunak and Ms Truss will once again face the cameras this week on Sky News.

Taking place on Thursday 4 August at 8pm at Sky Studios in west London, The Battle for Number 10 will see the candidates take part in back-to-back questioning from the live studio audience made up of Conservative Party members who remain largely undecided on who to vote for.

This will then be followed by an in-depth interview with Kay Burley.

The programme will be broadcast live for 90 minutes and for free on Sky News channel 501, on Freeview 233, on Sky Showcase channel 106, and across Sky News' digital channels.

The pair also continue to face hustings across the country, with the latest set to take place in Cardiff tonight.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting