21:37 GMT +322 January 2020
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    Britain’s Counter Terror Chief, Neil Basu, has warned that political extremists across the UK are likely to stoke and exploit Brexit tensions. Sputnik spoke about it to Professor Julian Richards the Co-director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham.

    Sputnik: How significant are these recent concerns coming from Neil Basu? Are there legitimate concerns here?

    Professor Julian Richards: Yes there are, there's clear evidence that parts of the far right movement in the UK, and it should be pointed out that it's not necessarily a very well-coordinated movement but nevertheless, part of the movement such as the now semi-defunct EDL have spoken a lot about Brexit and the trouble that would ensue if the political class was seen to be backtracking on Brexit.

    So if the government ends up to be seen delaying or even cancelling Brexit, this will be seen as a monstrous betrayal by those in the far right movement and it will be further justify their core narrative that the established political elite in this country never really listen to or take account of the people who support the far right. There is some substance to this in political and ideological terms; how big the risk is, is of course very difficult to quantify and there is no doubt that the far right movement are not very organized in the UK compared to other countries, so how much of an effect will they would actually have is a question of debate I think.

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    Sputnik: What procurements are the police using to prevent these concerns from coming true? Essentially are the police doing enough?

    Professor Julian Richards: Well, of course, the police are in a tricky position because they are supposed to be apolitical. What they are supposed to do is uphold the law and ensure public safety as well; so what the police try to do is, and they don't necessarily get it always exactly right, is to walk the line between clamping down on situations where the law has been transgressed and absolutely not clamping down on lawful protests because that would be seen as the police getting political or starting to get opposed to the idea of freedom of expression. They do have to walk quite a quite a delicate line between those things. It's a bit scary; there are potential risks you know in a climate of police cutbacks there are risks that if something really big broke out they'd struggle, but we'll have to see what happens.

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    Sputnik: If Britain leaves the EU without a deal, are we more likely to see extremist acts and even terror attacks take place in the UK?

    Professor Julian Richards: The quick answer is that it is very difficult to predict what will happen and in some ways it can go either way because if we left without a deal it would be seen as a very attractive outcome to a lot of people, particularly people on the far right, that's actually what they would like Britain to do, to crack on and get completely out and not have any ties left with the European Union. I don't see any reason for terrorist attacks to spike at that time because the issues are not necessarily connected.

    It could be a slow-burning process of disgruntlement and disorder that unfolded over a period of time, but I must stress that the bottom is that it is very difficult to predict and I think Neil Basu was right to flag these things up and say ‘hey look amongst the many things that we have to worry about in the upcoming months… this is one of them'.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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