Hate preachers, radical Islamist web sites and political extremism have all been targeted by Prime Minister David Cameron in his New Year message.
He said Britain starts 2016 in “a position of strength”, with a lower deficit and enterprise flourishing but acknowledged that the single biggest issue to face voters is the in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU).
In his message, the prime minister, who is criss-crossing Europe seeking support for his plan to stop EU citizens being entitled to British benefits for four years, conceded that many in Britain feel “frustrated” with the EU and pledged to plough on with his renegotiation of the UK’s membership terms.
Critics are quick to point out that Mr Cameron is long on rhetoric but short on ambition and has plenty of work to do to convince doubters that staying in the EU is of benefit to anyone outside the bureaucrats who support Brussels and Strasbourg law makers.
The referendum is expected this year and no later than 2017. Mr Cameron stated he will put Britain’s economic and national security first in deciding what recommendation he makes to the British people.
He said: “We are fighting hard to fix the aspects of our EU membership that cause so much frustration in Britain so we get a better deal for our country and secure our future. It is a difficult negotiation with 27 other countries.”
Mr Cameron continued to leave the door open for him and the Government to campaign for an EU exit.
“Throughout we are driven by one consideration – what is best for Britain’s economic and national security. In the end, you will decide whether we are stronger and better off with our European neighbours as part of the EU or on our own.”
Mr Cameron, who has previously warned of the dangers posed by people in Britain who “quietly condone” IS’s extremist ideology without explicitly supporting violence, reinforced his message that it is not only terrorist gunmen and bombers who must be confronted.
He said: “When our national security is threatened by a seething hatred of the West, one that turns people against their country and can even turn them into murderous extremists, I want us to be very clear: you will not defeat us.
“And we will not just confront the violence and the terror; we will take on their underlying poisonous narrative of grievance and resentment.
“We will come down hard on those who create the conditions for that narrative to flourish.
“And we will have greater confidence in, indeed we will revel in, our way of life.
“Because if you walk our streets, learn in our schools, benefit from our society, you sign up to our values – freedom, tolerance, responsibility, loyalty.”
The prime minister’s other three priorities are to continue to make buying a house more affordable for young people, tackle poverty through continued education and welfare reform, and increase social mobility.
“If we get to grips with these problems this year, we won’t just be a richer nation, but a stronger, more unified, more secure one,” he said.