There can’t be much doubt left for Brits. The threat of evil terrorist group Islamic State (IS) is closer to home than we thought.
Only a few days ago, we read about a chilling plot to carry out a gruesome beheading. Not in Syria, and not in Iraq, where we have witnessed with horror in bloody detail what this involves. No, this was a terror plot to attack Londoners, here on British soil. And it was foiled by Britain’s Police and security services at the last minute. Our Home Secretary Theresa May could not have been clearer, when she told us this week: the threat to the UK is perhaps greater than it has ever been.
Millions of families will be reassured, therefore, to hear about the government’s new laws to tackle these evil extremists. Incredibly, more than 500 Brits have already travelled to Syria and Iraq: many of them to fight for IS. They have made a choice to join that evil organisation. And their choice must have consequences. This is why Conservative ministers are bringing in new rules:
1) Tough new powers to control our borders, to confiscate passports from suspected terrorists, preventing them from travelling to fight for IS.
2) New exclusion orders, to ensure that British terrorists in Syria and Iraq are only allowed home on our terms – rather than just being nodded through automatically.
Schools and universities will play their part too. New “counter-radicalisation” measures are in our Bill. These will help to protect our children from corruption and brainwashing tactics – helping to keep them at home, safe, where they belong.
IS cannot be ignored. It will not disappear with time. It is a threat that must be confronted: or it will surely reach our shores. That is why we need these new laws, to ensure police and security agencies have all the powers they need, and access to all the data they need to disrupt terrorist plots.
Our police and security services have done a nerve-wracking job this year, wiping out numerous terrorist plots and arresting 271 potential killers. But, because we all communicate more online, they are losing access to the vital communications data – the “who, where, when and how” – that they need to keep us safe. That is why Conservatives want to strengthen the law, giving our police access to this critical information. We want to act. But we need a majority in parliament to do it. That’s why the Home Secretary has made it crystal clear: this will be a priority for us in the next parliament.
To sum up: we are determined to keep you and your children safe. We are committed to civil liberties, but your security must come first. It is your fundamental right as a British citizen. Everyone in this country has the basic right to walk our streets, take their children to school, and travel to work feeling safe. We will never put this at risk.
Grant Shapps is the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield and Conservative party chairman