Rishi Sunak vows to tackle ‘extremist forces making an attempt to tear us aside’

Rishi Sunak has vowed to tackle the “extremist forces trying to tear us apart” in a Downing Street address to the nation.

The Prime Minister said there has been a “shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality” as he warned that “now our democracy itself is a target”.

He described George Galloway’s victory in the Rochdale by-election on Thursday night as “beyond alarming”. And he claimed “our streets have been hijacked by small groups who are hostile to our values”.

The decision to hold a speech in front of the door to No10 had fuelled rumours Mr Sunak was about to call an election. But instead he used the address to vow to “face down” extremism within the nation, which he mentioned he develop into an issue within the wake of the October 7 assault on Israel.

He said: “In recent weeks and months, we have seen a shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality. What started as protest on our street has descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence.

“Jewish children fearful to wear that school uniform lest it reveal their identity. Muslim women abused in the street for the actions of a terrorist group they have no connection with. Now our democracy itself is a target.”

Mr Sunak raised concerns about how council meetings had been “stormed” and how MPs “do not feel safe in their homes”.

“It is beyond alarming that last night the Rochdale by-election returned a candidate who dismisses the horror of what happened on October 7, who glorifies Hezbollah and is endorsed by Nick Griffin, the racist former leader of the BNP,” he added.

“I need to speak to you all this evening because this situation has gone on long enough and it demands a response not just from government, but from all of us. Britain, as a patriotic, liberal, democratic society with a proud past and a bright future.”

Mr Sunak said the Government would “redouble our support” the Prevent counter-extremism programme and demand universities “stop extremism activity on campus”. He also pledged to stop people coming here “whose aim is to undermine” the country’s values and deport those who “spew hate”.

“The time has now come for us all to stand together to combat the forces of division and beat this poison. We must face down the extremists who would tear us apart,” he went on.

Mr Sunak’s speech came almost exactly one week after Lee Anderson’s GB News interview in which he accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of being controlled by “Islamists”, which the Conservative Party initially defended before he was eventually suspended as a Tory MP. The PM did not mention this in his address.