This article was originally published in The Sun, 20/10/2023: Time for zero tolerance for hate-mongers in UK - we should kick out foreign nationals who commit these vile offences (thesun.co.uk)
BRITAIN is a welcoming country and our values of common decency, tolerance and an aversion to hatred of all kinds are key parts of our national identity.
My parents came to the UK because of that and they seized the opportunity to build a successful life and family.
But they recognised, as so many others do, that with freedom and opportunity come important responsibilities — including abiding by British values.
Few of these are more precious than the freedom of worship, belief and identity. That’s why the attacks and abuse against the Jewish community in recent days have been so sickening.
We should not allow conflict abroad to be used to sow division at home. But sadly, this is exactly what some groups are trying to do.
The Community Security Trust, a charity dedicated to the protection of this community, has since reported a 541 per cent increase in hateful incidents.
It includes vile cases such as red paint being splattered on Jewish schools, a swastika daubed in Manchester, and a sticker plastered on a synagogue saying, “I stand with genocide”.
“Free Palestine, kill Jews” was shouted at the heart of a Jewish community in London.
Arrests have been made at protests, including when an individual allegedly threatened to behead someone who was carrying an Israeli flag.
The impact on the Jewish community has been immediate and clear.
Last week, a number of schools closed. Children were advised to alter their school uniform so as to not to signal their Jewish identity.
Friends of mine have stopped wearing their head covering, a kippah, in public. Synagogues have stepped up security.
As someone who is so proud of this country, this has been devastating to see.
The increase in violence and hate crimes should be a source of national shame.
Looking ahead, we have a clear duty to respond forcefully and defend the freedoms the UK has offered for so long.
That means offering as much support to frontline organisations as they need, including the CST and police.
I know Sun readers will agree that people who commit these vile offences must face the full force of the law. But this should be no different for foreign nationals in the UK.
This is an area I have long believed the Government ought to go further in, and where thankfully, we now see some positive movement.
If committing an act of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes, foreign nationals should expect to face tough consequences.
The Home Secretary has the power to refuse or revoke the visas of extremists — I know, I did it myself. More often than not this happens on national security grounds or if individuals are judged to be “not conducive to the public good”.
But we can all agree there should be an absolute zero tolerance for hatemongers spreading fear and division on our streets.
So if foreign nationals commit these vile offences, their visa should be immediately revoked and they should be removed from the country.
I raised this with the Prime Minister this week, and within days we have seen welcome progress, with ministers saying they are prepared to act. But they will be judged on results. Hard-hit communities need effective delivery.
Having served as Home Secretary, I know how important implementation is to deliver meaningful change. So the Immigration Minister and Policing Minister must keep the pressure up on all 43 police forces and Home Office officials.
Not only will this policy be a powerful deterrent to would-be offenders, it will also help protect targeted communities.
This common-sense approach is firm but fair. The UK wants skilled people to live, work and study here. But if you want to spread hatred, you should no longer be welcome on these shores.
Britain has always been a tolerant country. But we must never forget that a visa is not a right, it is a privilege. We should all be proud to live in the world’s most successful multi-racial democracy.
But neither should we forget that society is built on rights and responsibilities.
If a foreign national wants to engage in any hateful activity, they should have no place in this country.
For the Jewish community, and all others at risk of hate crimes, removing these vile offenders is the least we can do.