English Defence League 'to become political party and stand candidates in European elections', says 'Tommy Robinson'

Exclusive: Robinson announces that far-right party will stand in elections as he abandons British Freedom Party after only five months

The far-right English Defence League will be turned into a political party in a bid to stand candidates in the European Parliament elections in less than two years, its founder has claimed. Tommy Robinson revealed the plan as he announced he was to leave the British Freedom Party after only five months.

Mr Robinson told The Independent he saw the EDL transforming from its current guise as a street movement in future. He said: "I looked into the future and thought that if I wanted to stand [for election], it wouldn't be for the BFP; it would be for the EDL. I would stand for office as an EDL candidate and it will happen, it's just a matter of when.

"I am looking at how to change the EDL into a genuine political party but we can't put a time on it at the moment. We are looking at the 2014 elections in Europe.

"It [the BFP] just isn't for me, I want to stick to the EDL. I wanted to make this decision before I committed myself to campaigning for the BFP. I have not been involved in an election campaign for them yet, so it is the right time."

Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, joined the British Freedom Party in May along with his cousin and EDL co-founder Kevin Carroll in a bid to politicise the movement.

However, that plan has not come to fruition and Mr Robinson left earlier this afternoon.

Mr Carroll, 43, is standing for election to the Police and Crime Commissioner post at the Bedfordshire Constabulary. He said he is remaining in the party because he wants to push his political ambitions immediately, rather than wait for the transformation of the EDL, which currently has no formalised membership and little structure.

He said: "It was something we discussed and I am staying. I am still 100 per cent EDL but you have the age difference between Tommy and I. At 48 years-old, I am very politically minded now. We still support each other 100 per cent but he is talking further down the road and I want to push forward with this now."

Mr Robinson is seeking to follow the example of BNP leader Nick Griffin, who was himself elected to the European Parliament in 2009. He is known to favour legitimising the movement with the mainstream and is thought to be in negotiations to merge with another far-right group.

But a recent report from the Extremis Project, a collection of academics and commentators on various forms of extremism suggested that the EDL has "struggled to communicate its ideas to the wider public" since it was formed in 2009.

The group and YouGov surveyed more than 1,600 people for its report entitled 'Under the microscope: Public attitudes toward the English Defence League', which was published this week.

The group wrote: "[The EDL] is far from being a 'household name'. Those who 'have heard of the EDL but are unsure what they stand for' clearly outnumber those who 'have heard of the EDL and know exactly what they stand for'.

"In fact, more than two-fifths of respondents - or 42 per cent - said that while they had heard of the EDL they were unsure what the movement stands for. In contrast, only one-third had heard of the movement and were aware of its platform, while one-quarter of the respondents had 'never heard' of the English Defence League."

And Matthew Collins of anti-EDL campaigners Hope Not Hate said he does not believe the EDL has the organisational capacity to effectively transform itself into a political party. He said: "[Mr Robinson] is not going to do it. The immediate problem is that he has a number of court cases coming up.

"It is quite clear that the BFP link has not worked out, the party cannot deliver politically and he cannot organise the EDL into a political party."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas