Tommy Robinson, the co-founder and former leader of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) has indicated that he will support Ukip in the next general election, saying that the anti-EU party “understands the threat Islam poses 100%”.
Explaining where his political loyalties lie, Robinson, 32, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, said: “I’m a working class lad, I come from parents who were immigrants and generations of Labour voters. I should be Labour but they don’t represent me. What we have now is people like me – working class people – moving towards Ukip without knowing what Ukip is really about.”
He continued: “But we do know we agree about the EU and immigration. I’m sure every other of their policies will go against working men like me, but they understand us. I don’t really even have a problem with immigration, as I said, I’m the son of immigrants, but it’s this Islamic ideology that everyone else is failing to address.”
Pressed on his understanding of Ukip’s stance to the Muslim faith, Robinson hinted at back-door communications with the anti-EU party: “I’m not at liberty to go into details but all I know is that 100% Ukip fully understand the threat of Islamic ideology.”
Robinson left the EDL in October 2013, supposedly because he had concerns about the “dangers of far-right extremism” and doubted the productiveness of the marches he used to organise. However, he has now indicated he will return next summer: “I wouldn’t rule out organising these kind of marches in the UK but I’m on license so I can’t contact the EDL. On 22nd July I have my freedom of speech back.”
Despite spending time with “moderate Muslims”, and even working briefly with the anti-radicalisation thinktank the Quilliam Foundation, Robinson is convinced that a divide between Muslims and non-Muslims will lead to conflict in Britain. “The UK is heading to civil war. Whether it happens in five, 10 or 20 years, there will be bloodshed. I left the EDL and went and spoke to moderate Muslims but I really don’t believe this issue will be solved, it’s too big. I have done a lot of searching and there’s no answer. It terrifies me. Things are just getting worse.”
Robinson praised the recent anti-Islam marches in Germany that have focussed on the city of Dresden: “I was quite surprised at how restrained they were in Dresden. With the EDL there was a lot more aggression and I think that deterred ordinary people coming out.”
“[What’s happening] in Germany, it’s amazing, their numbers are growing every week,” he said.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the marches, saying there is “no place in Germany” for hatred of Muslims or any other religious or racial group.
People applying to be Ukip members must agree under their terms and conditions that they are not and have never been a member of the EDL or other far-right groups.
Newsweek contacted Ukip for a response to Robinson’s comments but none was immediately forthcoming.
Since Nigel Farage took back the leadership of UKIP from Lord Pearson he has shifted the party away from the “counterjihad” politics of Pearson towards a more mainstream xenophobia, in order to make UKIP more attractive to disillusioned Tory voters. There are certainly UKIP activists who share the EDL’s views. But the idea of Farage engaging even in “back-door communications” with the former EDL leader, never mind any public association with this convicted hooligan and criminal, is laughable.