All public office holders must swear a new oath of allegiance to British values to help combat extremism. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, wants political and civic leaders to lead by example saying “We can’t expect new arrivals to embrace British values if those of us who are already here don’t do so ourselves.”
Javid has also said that he wants every new migrant to swear an oath in plans expected this spring. Only migrants becoming British citizens must do so at present.
The communities secretary’s remarks have been accused of betraying the British values they are meant to uphold. Professor Thom Brooks, Head of Durham Law School, said that British values like equality and the rule of law require that the government to avoid creating second class citizens. Brooks said: “If an oath to British values will help combat extremism, why is it only for public officers and new migrants but not everyone? The government has agreed to ban extremist right wing groups born in Britain. What is best for all should not only be limited to a few – and this selective decision about who must take an oath and who need not shows a lack of respect and fair play for all citizens new and old.”
An immigrant from the United States, Professor Brooks became a British citizen in 2011 after taking an oath of loyalty. He says: “British values are important to our democracy. The government acts against these values when it dictates our values. It should begin a public consultation and let the British people – and not ministers – decide what our values are.”