Cameron looks to fend off ‘lame duck’ charge with Extremism Bill
Prime minister acts to bolster 'legacy programme'.... and puts leadership hopeful Theresa May at heart of new drive.
David Cameron is set to fend off claims that he is becoming a lame duck prime minister by announcing a raft of new laws to deal with Islamist extremists.
The prime minister will put an Extremism Bill at the heart of the Queen’s Speech later this month, according to reports.
The legislation will include measures to gag individuals, close down premises and ban organisations.
The move to make counter-extremism a centrepiece of the Queen’s Speech comes as many Tory MPs believe that the prime minister’s authority could quickly drain away after the European Union referendum on June 23 - even if his side is victorious.
The Times reports that the decision reflects concerns that the prime minister’s “legacy programme” planned for the aftermath of the EU referendum was insufficiently ambitious.
The plan will also raise eyebrows among Tory MPs who are keeping an eye on the race to succeed Cameron, as it puts Theresa May at the heart of the government programme. The home secretary will kick off the new counter-extremism drive by launching an independent review of how Sharia courts are operating in Britain.
The bill will also extend laws so employers will be able to find out if applicants have extremist backgrounds, and then they can be prevented from working with children.
A Downing Street spokeswoman refused to comment, but a Home Office source told The Times: “Getting agreement about the thresholds for what constitutes extremism and what needs to be protected as free speech is not going to be easy or straightforward.”