Brexit is causing far-right views on immigration and identity to be drawn into the mainstream, a report has warned.
Research by Hope Not Hate found that Britain’s departure from the EU has fuelled discussions of loyalty, elites and patriotism, “drawing people who might have otherwise have been attracted to the far right back into the mainstream right”.
“The blurring of these boundaries has seen mainstream politicians and commentators using language and rhetoric that was previously found only on the far right [and] seen anti-Muslim prejudice, demeaning rhetoric on migrants and refugees and notions of a ‘cultural war’ against social liberalism increasingly being adopted,” the group’s annual report said.
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“This is partly as a consequence of politicians co-opting far-right narratives to gain support and partly because of the newer far right engaging in wider issues.”
Hope Not Hate said the change was responsible for weakening traditional far-right street movements in Britain, seeing a decline in membership and events.
Its report noted that several extremist figures and groups, including Tommy Robinson and Britain First, had called for their supporters to support Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party since he became leader.
“Past and present far-right leaders even attended Brexit Day celebrations in Parliament Square,” it added.
“The ‘cordon sanitaire’ which once kept far-right groups and thought out of mainstream discourse has collapsed, both here and on the continent.”
Hope Not Hate warned that although the public debate around Brexit had made the traditional far right “irrelevant”, disillusionment with Mr Johnson or the way the UK leaves the EU could spark a future resurgence.
The report came amid continued increases in hate crime across Britain, and warnings over rising Islamophobia and antisemitism.
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Nick Lowles, Hope Not Hate’s chief executive, said that despite the decline of organised groups, hate had “become more widespread through a peer driven online culture and the mainstreaming of far-right narratives”.
“Citizens, institutions and state agencies need to understand the scale of the problem, and start pushing back against ideologies of division and hate,” he added.
Outside Britain, the report said that the international far-right terror threat had hit “unprecedented levels” following the attacks in Christchurch, El Paso, Halle and Hanau.
It found that the threat was involving younger and more violent individuals, and that the ideological paths into extremism had become more diverse because of the rise of conspiracy theories, incels and the “manosphere”.
Hope Not Hate called for action against extremist online networks, including the far right’s adoption of the encrypted messaging app Telegram.
It also called on the government to ban a Satanist neo-Nazi organisation called the Order of Nine Angles, which advocates murder and sexual violence.
Mr Lowles said the current strategy was “wholly inadequate for dealing with this rapidly changing danger”, adding: “In 2020, far-right terror operates through a virtually leaderless online, global community waging its battles internationally, from Christchurch in New Zealand to Halle in Germany, through a new generation of increasingly young and more extreme terrorists, but the authorities have been slow to make connections between offline hate crimes and the ideological ecosystem behind them.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government is taking action to root out and dismantle the groups that promote extreme right-wing views and we are giving police the tools and resources they need to tackle this threat.
“Just last week, the government banned the right-wing terrorist group Sonnenkrieg Division in the UK, making membership punishable by 10 years in jail.
“We keep the list of proscribed organisations under review.”