Nigel Farage has joined forces with a Swedish far right party founded by white supremacists and a French MEP who was elected for Marine Le Pen's Front National last month to form a European Parliament grouping, in an apparent change of approach just weeks after pledging to avoid parties on the far right.
The Ukip leader’s new Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group counts Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement led by the iconoclastic Beppe Grillo, Lithuania's Order and Justice Party, the Sweden Democrats and single members from the Czech Republic, Latvia and France.
Ukip has insisted it has not reneged on its promise not to align with far right parties because the two Swedish MEPs Kristina Winberg and Peter Lundgren, were obliged to write a letter to the new group distancing themselves from their party's past, The Guardian reports.
Joelle Bergeron was elected as a member of Marine Le Pen's Front National in May but quit the party just days later, claiming “their philosophy is no longer mine” and sits as an independent in the European Parliament.
Ms Bergeron is also understood to have written a letter to the secretary general of EFD separating herself from Ms Le Pen’s party.
In pictures: Extremists in the EU
In pictures: Extremists in the EU
1/6 France: Marine le Pen
Marine Le Pen, 45, took over the Front National (FN), the party that her father founded, in 2011. He himself described her as “a big, healthy, blonde girl, an ideal physical specimen." She claims to have cleaned up the FN and succeeded in pushing her anti-European, anti-euro and anti-immigration agenda into the EU political mainstream
2/6 Germany: Udo Voigt
He will be the first German neo-Nazi to enter the European Parliament. The former army officer, born in 1952, was jailed in 1995 for inciting racial hatred. Formerly the leader of the far right National Democratic Party (NPD), Voigt was convicted in 2009 after he was caught handing out flyers at the World Cup which argued that a black player was not entitled to play for Germany, whose national team – the literature argued – should be made up only of white players.
3/6 Denmark: Morten Messerschmidt
Leader of the Danish People’s Party, which won 27 per cent of the vote. His party has rammed 20 laws relating to immigrants and asylum-seekers through the Danish parliament, giving it the most anti-foreigner legislation in Europe. His party calls Islam “a fascist ideology” and rails against “East European criminal gangs”. One party strategist said “blood ties” to Denmark should be required for citizenship, though the statement was quickly retracted.
4/6 Hungary: Krisztina Morvai
A senior member of Jobbik, the anti-Semitic and anti-Roma party on Hungary’s far right wing. In 2009, she attracted international publicity after declaring: “So-called proud Hungarian Jews should go back to playing with their little circumcised dicks.” In 2009, she cancelled an interview with a British newspaper, declaring in tones of outrage: “I am a decent politician and the mother of three children, yet you in the west keep portraying me as a Nazi and a Fascist.”
5/6 Italy: Mario Borghezio
MEP for Italy’s notoriously racist Northern League, he has relentlessly attacked the nation’s first black cabinet minister, Cecile Kyenge, minister for integration, claiming she would import ‘tribal traditions’ into the Italian government. Other elected members in the party called her “an orang-utan” and suggested that someone should rape her, so she would understand how the victims of Somali rapists felt. He attracted attention by lobbying for the creation of an EU archive of UFO sightings.
6/6 Greece: Eleftherios Synadinos
Fabulously mustachioed retired lieutenant-general in the Greek army, he was one of Golden Dawn’s top candidates in the European elections, at which the overtly neo-Nazi party obtained more than 9 per cent of the vote. With its black-shirted assault squads, the Hitler photos and the party’s swastika-inspired logo, it has been accused of being a criminal organisation. Its website declares: “We aren’t the quiet birds of peace time, we are birds of the storm and the hurricane.”
The Sweden Democrats party was initially founded as a white supremacist group, some of whose members allegedly posed in Nazi uniforms at meetings.
They became more moderate in 1996 when uniforms were banned and the party announced its policies would be based around universal declaration of human rights.
One of the party's early prominent figures, Gustaf Ekström, had been a member of the Waffen SS.
In a statement headed: "We acknowledge and learn from our mistakes", the party said: "The worst of these mistakes was that the party didn't distance itself from radical youths with subcultural looks and that these were allowed to participate in some of the party demonstrations."
Mr Farage said he was "very proud” to have formed the group which he pledged would “undertake to be the people's voice”.
“Expect us to fight the good fight to take back control of our countries' destinies. We have struggled against much political opposition to form this group and I am sure it will operate very well. Now it is formed I expect other delegations to join soon."