David Cameron to shut down religious schools teaching intolerance

Prime Minister David Cameron on stage with wife Samantha after his address to the Conservative Party conference at Manchester Central. Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron on stage with wife Samantha after his address to the Conservative Party conference at Manchester Central. Peter Byrne/PA Wire

TOUGH measures to fight extremism were laid out by the Prime Minister as he delivered his first conference speech with the support of a majority Conservative Government behind him.

In a confident and controlled performance, he told members in Manchester how he wants to tackle segregation and religious institutions found to be teaching intolerance will be shut down.

Social responsibility, eradicating poverty and equality will be the direction he pushes the party in over the next five years, and he made a bold invitation to the centre ground, explaining that many people who have never voted Conservative before may now find a home within the party.

Describing the 2010s as the ‘turnaround decade’ and one in which a ‘Greater Britain’ is possible, he appeared to be setting out how his legacy should be imagined, despite it only being half-time in his premiership.

Outside protests continued from anti-austerity protestors.

On extremism he said children in Britain were having their minds filled with ‘poison’ and their ‘hearts filled with hate’ in Islamic religious schools.

He said: “Where an institution is teaching children intensively, then whatever its religion, we will, like any other school, make it register so it can be inspected.

“And be in no doubt: if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down.”

He used his appearance at conference to reiterate his message that Jeremy Corbyn, as the new left-wing leader of the Labour party is a threat to national security.

Describing him as a ‘terrorist sympathiser’, David Cameron won one of his many standing ovations.

He said Labour had abaonded the notion of equality of opportunity, where as they would persevere in helping people have a fair ‘shot’ in life.

He said: “I have a message for those who voted for us and those who never have. If you believe in strong defence, and helping the poorest, most desperate people in the world. If you believe we can become the enterprise capital of the world and beat poverty. If you want these things, the party you need is the party right here.”

After yesterday’s speeches from Home Secretary Theresa May and London Mayor Boris Johnson, which both touched on Britain’s relationship with Europe, the audience were expectant to hear more of the Prime Minister’s own views.

He said Britain’s influence in the EU can make it work more powerfully on the international stage.

He said: “It’s not just what we get out of, it’s what we get Europe into.

“Who do you think got Europe to open trade talks with America, which would be the biggest trade deal in our history?

Who do you think got Europe to agree to sanctions on Iran, which brought that country to the negotiating table?

Us. Britain. We did.”

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, who watched the leader’s speech at the Manchester Convention Centre, said it was powerful and presented the Prime Minister in a new light.

He said: “It was very passionate and very strong. I think he’s really come into his own now we’ve got a Conservative majority Government.

“The last Parliament was about doing what a lot of people thought was impossible, which is to rebuild and economy while simultaneously cutting a deficit. An incredible set of achievements. So now the opportunity really is to work on some of the more difficult issues in society.”

He said the Prime Minister’s deliberate singling out of Boris Johnson in his speech to praise him was because ‘people love Boris’, and not because David Cameron sees him as his natural successor.

He said: “In that audience people love Boris. He got a standing ovation person, the only person to get one in that speech apart from David Cameron. People connect with him and he’s done a wonderful job in London so it’s understandable people really acted like they did.

“We’ve got a number of people who could be great leaders. That’s what you see in Parliament, the quality of our front bench.”

But he dismissed questions around who might go on to lead the party next as a conference ‘side-show’.

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Minister without Portfolio, responding to David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference, said: “You can’t claim to be in the common ground of British politics when you’re cutting the tax credits working families rely on, leaving 3 million of them on average £1,300 a year worse off.

“David Cameron can talk all he likes about the common ground but the truth is working people are worse off under the Tories.”