May rules out burka ban in Britain

The prospect of any attempt to ban the Islamic full veil in public in Britain has been firmly ruled out by Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

Ministers believe there is little pressure, either politically or among the public, for the UK to follow the French lead and outlaw the use of face-covering veils such as the niqab or burka.

Although David Cameron has warned of "different cultures" being encouraged by "state multiculturalism" to live separate lives, the Government is adamant that to impose a ban on the veil would run contrary to British instincts. Calls for a ban have been limited so far to one Tory MP, Philip Hollobone, and the UK Independence Party. Mr Hollobone attempted last year to champion a Commons bill outlawing face coverings, but received no public declarations of support from any other MP.

The Home Office said yesterday: "It is not for government to say what people can and cannot wear. Such a proscriptive approach would be out of keeping with our nation's longstanding record of tolerance. Accordingly we do not support a ban on wearing the burka."

Baroness Warsi, the first woman Muslim Cabinet minister, has also defended the right of women to choose to wear a face veil.