Today's leading stories include the EU Settlement Scheme statistics and artists boycotting the Bradford Literature Festival.
EU Settlement Scheme figures
The Express, The Times and The Mail report on the EU Settlement Scheme figures released yesterday, which show that nearly 700,000 EU citizens have been granted leave to remain in the UK.
The Times reports that 5,000 a day are applying for settled status and that no applicant had been turned down so far.
Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, said:
The EU Settlement Scheme is making really good progress and more than 800,000 people have already applied, with almost 700,000 granted status.
The Scheme is simple and free and EU citizens have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply so we are well on track to deliver on our promise to protect the rights of EU citizens.
Writers boycott festival backed by funding to curb extremism
The Guardian reports that six writers and activists have pulled out of the Bradford Literature Festival after it emerged the event had received funding from the government's counter-extremism programme, Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT).
The article explains that the group withdrew from appearances after learning that the 10-day event had accepted money provided as part of the Home Office’s campaign against anti-democratic hate groups. It notes the Home Office programme, Building a Stronger Britain Together funds more than 230 groups and “is separate from the controversial counter-terrorism Prevent programe”.
The organisers of the Bradford Literature Festival are also quoted highlighting that the BSBT programme is a "broad initiative, working with communities across the board". They add that "the focus of the BSBT work has been on promoting the value of education and the importance of literacy, which is central to the ethos of this festival”.
In response to the Guardian article, the Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism Sara Khan published a blog in support for civil society groups who receive funding through BSBT. She said:
Firstly the (Counter Extremism) strategy itself is about bringing communities together to promote shared values and tackle the spread of all forms of extremism – including challenging the Far Right and rising anti-Muslim hatred, which disproportionately effects Muslim women. It has nothing to do with Prevent.
Following a number of social media posts which inaccurately claimed that the government funding for the festival was linked to the anti-radicalisation strategy Prevent, we issued the below response.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
It is disappointing that some individuals are seeking to undermine and misrepresent the incredibly valuable work done in communities by our Building a Stronger Britain Together partners.
BSBT is an open and transparent programme, which supports local people in their vital work to bring communities together, promote fundamental values and tackle the spread of all extremist ideologies. We are proud of the work that our BSBT community groups do to tackle extremism in all its forms.
We will continue to support our members to enable them to make a positive impact in their local communities.
The Building a Stronger Britain Together programme was formed to deliver elements of the government's 2015 Counter Extremism Strategy. It supports civil society and community organisations who work to create more resilient communities, stand up to extremism in all its forms and promote fundamental British values. These groups tackle a range of extremism, including hate crime, anti-Muslim hatred, so called "honour based violence", right wing extremism, online extremism and more.