CST: Take police warning of far-right exploitation of Brexit ‘seriously’

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CST: Take police warning of far-right exploitation of Brexit ‘seriously’

Organisation responsible for security and tackling antisemitism warns about the rise of extremism in the wake of Britain's departure from the EU

British and European flags
British and European flags

Far-right exploitation of Brexit threatens British Jews, a top counter-terrorism expert has warned.

The Community Security Trust echoed concerns of the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who spoke of the  “creeping rise” in extreme far-right groups, in light of Britain’s departure from the EU.

Basu warned of people being radicalised, saying the “febrile” atmosphere surrounding Brexit could give rise to division, allowing a way in for extremist ideology. He said there was no intelligence pointing to an increased risk of terror attacks after Brexit, but he was concerned about a potential rise in hate crime.

Mark Gardner, Director of Communications at CST said:  “This warning, from the Police officer with overall responsibility for the subject, should be taken extremely seriously.

“This matches CST’s own analysis of the situation, based upon what we see and hear within far-right circles.”

Danny Stone, Chief Executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust added that: “far-right groups and individuals will exploit any opportunity to maximise fear and spread their hate. We’ve seen it over many years in different contexts and Brexit is no different.

“With the reach of social media and other tools the ability to mobilise and extend hate has improved. We will need sound political leadership, effective policing and the energy of anti-racists everywhere, online or not, to ensure that the far-right fails in its efforts to use Brexit to its advantage.”

The head of UK counter-terrorism policing said: “What’s most concerning me about Brexit is its potential to divide communities and set communities against each other. So what we saw after the referendum (in 2016) was a rise in hate crime, and a rise in far-right rhetoric, and we have seen the growth of organisations like National Action.”

“What I’m concerned about is the creeping rise of that threat, and if we aren’t clear that we are combating that threat then that’s my concern.

Earlier this month, it was reported that one in 10 of the more than 170,000 antisemitic Google searches made in Britain every year include violent phrases such as “kill Jews”, the CST revealed. The findings cover a 14-year period starting in 2004 and are based on analysis of Google data, as well as material from the archive of the far-right website Stormfront, one of the oldest and largest neo-Nazi websites.

Neo-Nazi group National Action was banned in 2016, after it supported the murder of MP Jo Cox. Jewish MP Luciana Berger has spoken at length about the torrent of far-right abuse she receives online, including death threats, which led to a man from Liverpool being subsequently jailed in February 2017.

Last year, Luciana Berger paid tribute to murdered MP Jo Cox after being honoured for standing up to the hate she’s faced for being Jewish, during the No2H8 Crime Awards.

Four far-right extremist plots and 14 Islamist terror plots were foiled in the last two years.

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