Michael Gove named a string of groups which could be checked against the Government’s new definition of extremism amid rising concerns about threats to social cohesion and British democracy.

In the Commons, the Communities Secretary used parliamentary privilege to tell MPs the views held by organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain, Cage and Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development), as well as the British National Socialist Movement and Patriotic Alternative would be assessed to see whether they met the description’s threshold.

He vowed the Government would “take action as appropriate” if that was found to be the case.

Speaking to MPs on Thursday, Mr Gove described how the country’s values of inclusivity and tolerance were “under challenge from extremist groups which are radicalising our young people and driving greater polarisation within and between communities to further their own ends”.

In order to “protect our democratic values and enhance social cohesion, it is important both to reinforce what we all have in common, and to be clear and precise in identifying the dangers posed by extremism”, he said.

The new definition “makes clear extremism can lead to the radicalisation of individuals, deny people their full rights and opportunities, suppress freedom of expression, incite hatred, weaken social cohesion, and ultimately, it can lead to acts of terrorism”.

Although Mr Gove said most extremist materials and activities are not illegal and do not lead to terrorism, citing examples of Islamist and neo-Nazi groups operating lawfully in Britain, he added: “But they advocate and work towards the replacement of democracy with an Islamist or Nazi society.”

Mr Gove told the Commons: “Organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain, which is the British affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other groups such as Cage and Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development) give rise to concern for their Islamist orientation and views.

“We will be holding these and other organisations to account to assess if they meet our definition of extremism and will take action as appropriate.”

Describing the activities of extreme right-wing groups as a “growing worry”, he later added: “I’m sure that we would agree that organisations such as the British National Socialist Movement and Patriotic Alternative who promote neo-Nazi ideology, argue for forced repatriation, a white ethno-state and the targeting of minority groups for intimidation, are precisely the type of groups about which we should be concerned and whose activities we will assess against the new definition.

“The activities of the extreme-right wing are a growing worry, the targeting of Muslim and Jewish communities and individuals by these groups is of profound concern requiring assertive action.”

The Government is “in no way intending to restrict freedom of expression, religion or belief” but it “cannot be in a position where unwittingly or not we sponsor, subsidise or support in any way organisations (or) individuals opposed to the freedoms we hold dear”, he warned.