Concerns over hate speech grow in UK ahead of poll

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As Britons go to the polls next month, the rising tide of hate speech in the U.K. has faced strong criticism recently.

Senior Anglican clerics yesterday called for candidates in Britain’s general election not to fuel hatred, with parties split over the divisive Brexit issue. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his deputy John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, said they were praying for unity as Britons prepare to vote on Dec. 12.

Britain has become increasingly split since holding a 2016 referendum on European Union membership which saw a narrow majority vote to leave the 28-member bloc. Political deadlock in Parliament over how to deliver on the decision has intensified the divisions, with members of Parliament (MPs) complaining of rising vitriolic abuse and violent threats. The main opposition Labour Party has been repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism while the ruling Conservatives have faced accusations of Islamophobia.

Meanwhile, candidates for the seat once held by MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by a right-wing extremist in the lead up to the 2016 referendum, have signed a cross-party pledge for an election campaign free of abuse and intimidation. The far-right extremism movement in the U.K. has gained momentum after the Brexit referendum in 2016, and the London and Manchester terror attacks in 2017. Thomas Mair, who confessed that he was influenced by far-right propaganda, killed Cox in an attack during the EU referendum campaign.

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