AN EXPERT has debunked Rishi Sunak’s branding of the Scottish independence movement as “extremist”.

Professor Chris Allen – who leads the extremism hub at Leicester University’s Centre for Hate Studies – told The National that “in no way” is Scottish nationalism “extremist” – adding that it doesn’t even fit either of the UK Government’s own definitions of extremism.

It comes after the Prime Minister claimed that "an axis of authoritarian states" were attempting to undermine British values in a major speech on extremism on Monday.

In a passage under the heading "The dangers", Sunak listed Russia, Iran, North Korea, antisemitism, "gender activists", and finally "Scottish nationalism" as posing threats to the UK – including its “history and identity".

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"They’re trying to make it morally unacceptable to believe something different and undermine people’s confidence and pride in our own history and identity,” Sunak said.

“Scottish nationalists are even trying to tear our United Kingdom apart."

Allen said that the “extremism” term is being weaponised by the UK Government against its critics and perceived enemies, including the Scottish independence movement.

“It's kind of extremism by association. And what they do is anyone that's opposed to their views, their ideologies, their goals – it’s a very cheap and easy way of demonising them,” he said.

“You saw this with those who protested against King Charles's Coronation. They were extremists. Environmental activists, extremists. There is nothing that links these groups apart from that they are seen to be the enemies or opponents of the Government or the Government's thinking.”

The academic added that he doesn’t believe Scottish nationalism even fits within the Government’s own two definitions of “extremism”.

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The UK Government released a new broader definition of “extremism” in March, in what it says is a bid to combat extreme ideologies like Islamism and neo-Nazism.

It updated another definition from 2011 and defines extremism as advancing ideologies “based on violence, hatred or intolerance” which aim to “destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others” or “undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights”.

“Well, if Scotland votes for independence, that is actually a democratic process so you have upheld the rule of law. You have upheld democratic rights. You have upheld liberal parliamentary democracy,” Allen said.

“In no way does [Scottish nationalism] fit within the definition of extremism”.