UK must not allow ‘knee-jerk’ anti-terror measures to eat into civil liberties, warns Green Party

Co-leader Jonathan Bartley says government should rethink 'xenophobic' Prevent counter-radicalisation programme

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“Knee-jerk” legislation introduced in response to terror atrocities could be exploited by a future Trump-style political leader in the UK, the co-leader of the Green Party has warned.

Jonathan Bartley welcomed the review of counter-terrorism powers announced by Theresa May in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack, but warned that any changes should not be allowed to chip away at civil liberties.

And he said that the Prime Minister's review should include a rethink of the “xenophobic” Prevent counter-radicalisation programme.

Answering questions from voters on BBC1's Election Questions, Mr Bartley was challenged over measures he would take in response to the recent rash of terror attacks.

He said: “There are some liberties and freedoms in this country which I am passionate about protecting and that is what the terrorists want to do away with, it's what they want to attack.

“So when it comes to having knee-jerk reactions to suddenly clamp down on civil liberties... We have just seen Trump elected in America, it's not out of the question that we could have someone of that calibre elected in this country.

“What would they do with powers that could be used to abuse and clamp down on civil liberties?”

Mr Bartley said he was concerned that British Muslims were reluctant to report concerns about friends and loved ones who may be vulnerable to radicalisation because they feel they are being targeted as a community by the “toxic” Prevent programme.

“It is xenophobic because it is alienating communities,” said Mr Bartley.

“It is alienating the very communities that we need to be building bridges with.”

While stressing the need to await the conclusions of a counter-terror review, Mr Bartley said his “instinct” was not to arm all police.

And he said the PM should look at the issue of policing numbers, after 20,000 officers were cut in England and Wales while she was Home Secretary and Prime Minister in the seven years since 2010.

Looking at the possibility of a hung Parliament, Mr Bartley said Green MPs would not enter a coalition with Labour, but would “work with a minority Labour government on a case by case basis where there is common ground”.

While the party has no hope of winning power, Green MPs would “hold Labour's feet to the fire” on issues like scrapping the Trident nuclear weapons system and introducing a universal basic minimum income, he said.

Press Association

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