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Policy Exchange Insider Labour MP Who Attacked Islamophobia Definition Privately Told Baroness Warsi Think Tank is ‘Dangerous’ 

Leaked WhatsApp messages between the Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Khalid Mahmood MP reveal distrust of the think tank, which has links to a ‘white genocide’ believer

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr, claimed that he only joined the right-wing think tank to ‘keep an eye’ on it from within due to its ‘dangerous’ nature. Photo: David Warren/Alamy

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A senior Labour MP and co-author of a new Policy Exchange report attacking attempts to define Islamophobia privately told former Conservative Cabinet Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi that the Conservative think tank is a “dangerous” outfit with extremist tendencies that he is trying to “temper” with his presence. 

The conversation between Baroness Warsi and Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, came to light in leaked WhatsApp messages seen exclusively by Byline Times.

Mahmood is currently a senior fellow at Policy Exchange. According to the parliamentary register of interests, he received regular payments from the think tank between April 2019 and March 2022, totalling more than £50,000. 

His private criticisms of Policy Exchange cohere with previous reports by Byline Times revealing the connections of multiple staffers with far-right anti-Muslim and antisemitic conspiracy theories. 

Several Policy Exchange fellows, including the co-authors of the new Islamophobia report, are linked to a supporter of the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory which has inspired several far-right terrorist attacks, including in Christchurch and Texas.

The think tank’s current head of security once described “Zionists” as “the enemy” alongside all the mainstream political parties.

Michael Gove, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, gives a speech at a Policy Exchange event. Photo: Tommy London /Alamy

Policy Exchange 

The messages seen by Byline Times were sent to a WhatsApp group of senior cross-party Muslim politicians in the UK. They contain a series of heated exchanges between Mahmood and Baroness Warsi, a former Conservative Party chair. 

The private messages were prompted by Mahmood’s co-authorship of a new report published by Policy Exchange – ‘A definition of Islamophobia? Old Problems Remain, As New Problems Emerge’ – which states that Islamophobia is being weaponised to silence free speech. 

In a foreword to the report, former Home Secretary Sajid Javid equates a working definition of Islamophobia created by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims with “blasphemy law by the backdoor” that would also potentially undermine counter-extremism work. 

This was denied in 2019 by Labour MP Wes Streeting as Co-Chair of the APPG on British Muslims. At the time, both the then Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council to Number 10, Martin Hewitt, and then Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police’s Head of Counter-Terrorism Policing, said that they believed basic refinements of the APPG definition would be sufficient. 

In the WhatsApp exchanges, Mahmood told Baroness Warsi multiple times that, if he had not joined Policy Exchange – one of the most influential lobbying groups around the UK Government – it would be a far worse organisation.

He claimed that he only joined the right-wing think tank to “keep an eye” on it from within, due to its “dangerous” nature.

Keeping an Eye

In the messages, Mahmood vigorously disputes Baroness Warsi’s criticisms of his role in the Policy Exchange report. Baroness Warsi complains that Mahmood had not raised his concerns directly with the APPG on British Muslims despite several invitations to do so. Mahmood rejects this criticism. 

“At least twice I have personally asked you to engage and you did not take up the open invite offered to all parliamentarians to submit evidence,” the peer writes in one message.

“And when I have addressed specific issues you’ve given me some wierd [sic] answer about how you working with PX [Policy Exchange] is in the best interests of the community because they (PX) would be far worse without you tempering/keeping an eye on them.”

In his responses to Baroness Warsi, Mahmood does not deny this conversation.

Instead, he writes: “I respect you have your opinions with PX’s report. Although moving forward, I am looking to having a more meaningful conversation with you.”

In a further message, Baroness Warsi writes: “I saw you a few weeks ago at the Big Iftaar and I spoke about this very issue. You didn’t ask for a discussion nor give any indication that you were interested in working collaboratively.” 

She also writes that she was told “PX would be far worse without you being there and you needed to be on the inside. You gave the clear impression PX were dangerous and they [sic] you were keeping an eye on them – at no point did you defend PX”.

Neither Baroness Sayeeda Warsi nor Khalid Mahmood responded to Byline Times’ requests for comment. 

Although Mahmood’s private characterisation of Policy Exchange as “dangerous” is at odds with his public stance, it is an accurate description of the think tank’s affiliations.

Great Replacement’ Ties

Two of Mahmood’s co-authors of the new Policy Exchange report – Sir John Jenkins and Dr Martyn Frampton – have worked closely with Dr Lorenzo Vidino, a ‘white genocide’ believer who once worked for the same far-right conspiracy theorist whom former Prime Minister David Cameron called an “idiot” for describing Birmingham as a Muslim “no-go zone”.

Dr Frampton also collaborated with Dr Vidino on a major anthology about the Muslim Brotherhood published in 2013, to which he was a contributor.

Former UK diplomat Sir John Jenkins spoke alongside Dr Vidino at a 2017 event hosted by him at George Washington University, where he heads up the programme on extremism. Dr Vidino was previously commissioned by Sir John to produce a paper and consultative briefing for the UK Government review of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Dr Frampton was also hosted by Dr Vidino in 2018 at George Washington University to speak about his own book on the Muslim Brotherhood.

As Byline Times has previously revealed, Dr Vidino is on record advocating the far-right Great Replacement theory – an ethno-nationalist theory warning that an indigenous (white) European population is being replaced by non-European immigrants through a programme of reverse-colonisation, according to the Counter Extremism Project. 

In 2005, when asked if Europeans were witnessing “the end of Europe” by FrontPage magazine (the far-right publication of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black activist David Horowitz), he said: “Europe as we knew it 30 years ago is long gone. Demography doesn’t lie: in a couple of decades non-ethnic Europeans will represent the majority of the population in many European cities and a large percentage of them will be Muslim.” 


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According to Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, Dr Vidino is well-known for promoting “conspiracy theories about the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and the United States” and “is connected to numerous anti-Muslim think tanks in the United States and Europe, and has published in various anti-Muslim outlets”. 

From 2002 to 2005, Dr Vidino was a senior analyst at Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, identified by the Centre for American Progress (CAP) as a top player in a global anti-Muslim “misinformation” network “orchestrating the majority of misinformation about Islam and Muslims in America today”. 

Emerson played a leading role in establishing the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory through cherry-picking and misrepresentations of key documents. According to CAP’s online database of anti-Muslim hate groups, he has a reputation “for fabricating evidence to substantiate his ravings about Muslim extremism”.

In 2015, Emerson was notoriously ridiculed by then Prime Minister David Cameron as “a complete idiot” for calling Birmingham a Muslim-controlled “no-go zone”. 

Byline Times also previously revealed that in 2010 Policy Exchange’s head of security and extremism, Dr Paul Stott, described “Zionists” as “the enemy” alongside Islamists, “Neo-Conservatives, New Labour [and] the Con-Dems”.

In 2021, Dr Stott was commissioned by the Sweden Democrats, a neo-Nazi political party boycotted by Israeli Government officials due to its antisemitic tendencies, to produce a report claiming the existence of a conspiratorial alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood and European political leaders. 

These extremist affiliations fundamentally discredit the integrity of Policy Exchange’s research on Islamophobia and Muslim communities.

Policy Exchange did not respond to requests for comment.

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