UK

Boris Johnson orders probe into attempts by far-left activists to ‘hijack’ movements

Boris Johnson has ordered a probe into attempts by far-left activists to ‘hijack’ movements such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion. 

Bosses behind the investigation say they will look at the impact of ‘progressive extremism’ on cause groups – something described as a current ‘blind spot’ by those leading the probe.

As well as the far-left, the investigation will also cover far-right extremism.

It is being launched following concern among ministers about ‘unacceptable behaviour’ linked to political causes, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Former Labour MP John Woodcock, who now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Walney, will lead the investigation.

Boris Johnson has ordered a probe into attempts by far-left activists to ‘hijack’ movements such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion. Pictured: People gather in Trafalgar Square last year for a Black Lives Matter rally

Bosses behind the investigation say they will look at the impact of 'progressive extremism' on cause groups - something described as a 'blind spot' by those leading the probe. Pictured: People gather London last year for a Black Lives Matter rally

Bosses behind the investigation say they will look at the impact of ‘progressive extremism’ on cause groups – something described as a ‘blind spot’ by those leading the probe. Pictured: People gather London last year for a Black Lives Matter rally

Lord Walney, who is now an unaffiliated peer, told the Telegraph that Britain must heed the warning signs in America, where far-right protesters stormed the US Capitol building last month.

But speaking about the far-left, he told the paper: ‘We must be vigilant against a similar blind spot in Britain to the prospect of progressive extremism – that is, unacceptable disruption or even violence carried out in the name of progressive causes to which the political establishment and large majority of the population have great sympathy, like climate change and racial injustice.’ 

Lord Walney told the Telegraph there is a significantly bigger problem with far-right extremism compared to the far-left.

Former Labour MP John Woodcock, who now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Walney, will lead the investigation

Former Labour MP John Woodcock, who now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Walney, will lead the investigation

However he said Britons were much better at ‘seeing through’ attempts by the far-right to gain public support.

Lord Walney also told the Telegraph that politicians were more likely to show support for groups such as Unite Against Fascism – who are alleged to have links with the Socialist Workers Party.

He added: ‘I want to look at the way anti-democracy, anti-capitalist far-Left fringe groups in Britain like the Socialist Workers Party tend to have much more success hijacking important causes … than the far-Right, and the harm that may do.’

It comes amid concern that hard-left groups such as the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) infiltrated the Black Livers Matter movement during protests last summer.

Gary McFarlane, a prominent member of the (SWP), was pictured at a Hyde Park protest as Star Wars actor John Boyega gave a speech to crowds. 

Mr McFarlane has been described as a ‘hard-left firebrand’ who called an injured policewoman ‘stupid’ and condoned shooting racist police officers. 

The activist, who has appeared on Russia Today (now RT), has previously been described as part of the Black Lives Matter group.

Last year he is said to have run a series of Zoom meetings for members on how to capitalise on the BLM movement.

But BLM have always denied links to the SWP. In a statement last year, they said: ‘None of the leadership of BLM are, or have ever been members of the SWP.

‘Any groups which are part of SWP and claim to be part of BLM have nothing to do with us.’

Meanwhile organisations who backed the Black Lives Matter movement have moved to distance themselves from the BLM UK organisation, who have previously criticised Israel and have called on the British government to ‘defund the police’. 

Extinction Rebellion, meanwhile, were last year described as a ‘key threat’ in counter-terrorism assessment carried out by City of London police.

Extinction Rebellion meanwhile were last year described as a 'key threat' in counter-terrorism assessment carried out by City of London police. Pictured: The group 'occupied' Oxford Circus with a boat in 2019

Extinction Rebellion meanwhile were last year described as a ‘key threat’ in counter-terrorism assessment carried out by City of London police. Pictured: The group ‘occupied’ Oxford Circus with a boat in 2019

The force grouped environmental protest movement alongside ‘far-right organisations’ in an assessment of its counter-terrorism operations, seen by the Guardian.

The group have carried out a spate of non-violent – but often highly disruptive – protests over the last three years.

More than 300 people were arrested during a single day of climate change protests in central London last September, in which bridges were blocked and protesters glued themselves to parts of buildings.

The group also ‘occupied’ large areas of central London in 2019, including Oxford Circus, where a pink boat was used to block off the busy road.

MailOnline has attempted to contacted the SWP, UAF, BLM UK and Extinction Rebellion for comment.

The findings of the investigation will be sent to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel in May. 

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