Tory Splits Erupt Over Michael Gove's Plan To Re-Define What 'Extremism' Is

Three former Conservative home secretaries warn against using the issue for "short term tactical advantage".
Michael Gove is expected to unveil the new definition of extremism later this week.
Michael Gove is expected to unveil the new definition of extremism later this week.
MICHAL WACHUCIK - PA Images via Getty Images

Tory splits have erupted over Michael Gove’s plan to change the government’s definition of “extremism”.

Former Conservative home secretaries Priti Patel, Amber Rudd and Sajid Javid have put their names to a letter warning against using the issue for “short term tactical advantage”.

Gove, the communities secretary, is expected to unveil the new wording on Thursday.

The move is important because groups which fall foul of the new definition would see any public funding they receive taken away from them.

It comes after Rishi Sunak provoked a backlash by claiming that the UK was sliding into “mob rule” in the wake of demonstrations and marches by pro-Palestine campaigners.

The letter, which is also signed by counter-terrorism and extremism experts, says: “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.

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

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Action to defeat extremism must be serious, cross-party, consensus building and driven by keeping citizens safe, not short-term political tactics.”

But security minister Tom Tugendhat this morning denied the government was seeking to politicise the issue.

He told GB News: “What we’re doing is we’re making sure that the British people are kept safe from the various forms of extremism that we sadly see in our country, that are trying to radicalise young people into doing things that are incredibly dangerous not just for our whole society but for them as individuals.”


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