EDL leader Tommy Robinson turns his back on his own party over 'dangers of far-right extremism'

30-year-old has held discussions with a former jihadi working for anti-extremist organisation

English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson has announced his intention to set up a new anti-Islamist movement after he dramatically stepped down from the party he founded, branding it too extreme.

The 30-year-old, who has become a familiar figure leading anti-Muslim protests around the country characterised by racist chanting and frequently scarred by violence, said street protests were “no longer effective” and that he “acknowledged the dangers of far-right extremism”.

Robinson, from Luton, made the surprise announcement through an anti-extremist organisation, the Quilliam Foundation, which said it had been helping the EDL founder and his co-leader, Kevin Carroll, who is also leaving the party. It called on extremists on all sides to follow suit.

At a press conference, Robinson - sat alongside two former Islamist extremists from Quilliam - said he now hoped to influence policy in combating extremism and wanted to try “new tactics” away from street protests by lobbying government, local authorities and other organisations.

It emerged that as part of their new links with Quilliam, forged in recent weeks, Robinson and his co- leader would take lessons in Islam from Usama Hasan and training in lobbying institutions.

Mr Carroll said: “We are making a leap of faith. If we fail then we are handing down the mess. And it is a catastrophic mess. I would ask people to give this a chance.”

The Independent can reveal that Robinson, who is currently facing charges of obstructing police officers at a demonstration in the aftermath of the death of soldier Lee Rigby this summer, has held discussions with a former jihadi working for Quilliam.

Usama Hasan, a one-time mujahideen who fought in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, said Robinson had shown a willingness to modify his views about Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims and their faith. He said: “Tommy is guilty of stirring up anti-Muslim hatred...But I get the impression he does listen and he’s been doing his reading.”

The EDL founder said his leaving the group was a “step forward, not a step back” and represented his desire to lead a “revolution” against Islamic extremism rather than the Muslim mainstream. He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “When some moron lifts up his top and he’s got the picture of a mosque saying ‘boom’ and it’s all over the national newspapers, it’s me.

“It’s when I pick up my kids from school the parents are looking at me, judging me on that. And that’s not what I’ve stood for and my decision to do this is to be true to what I stand for. And whilst I want to lead a revolution against Islamist ideology, I don’t want to lead a revolution against Muslims.”

The announcement by Robinson, who said he felt he could no longer keep extremist elements within the EDL at bay, divided his own movement, with some supporters applauding his move and others deriding it.

An EDL spokesman said the group “will not die because they’re walking away”.

An English Defence League rally earlier this year An English Defence League rally earlier this year  

Suggested Topics
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

HR Advisor - East Anglia - Field-based

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: To be considered for this position you will n...

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home