'Ukip campaigners posed for picture with Britain First by mistake in Rochester,' party HQ claims

Britain First said it had support from Ukip activists over 'similar policies'

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Indy Politics

Ukip has said its campaigners posed for a picture with Britain First activists by “mistake” and did not understand “the nature of the group”.

Britain First had posted the picture, taken on Saturday in Rochester where both groups are campaigning for the upcoming by-election, on its website.

It showed three Ukip campaigners, wearing party T-shirts and rosettes, smiling with their arms around Britain First’s Parliamentary candidate Jayda Fransen.

“The day was marked by the great and friendly reception we received from the Ukip activists,” Britain First’s report of the day said.

Ms Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First known for her role in its so-called “mosque invasions”, said Nigel Farage’s followers had “expressed support” and asked for the picture.

“We were just having a chat about how our policies are very similar to Ukip’s, in fact they almost mirror them,” she told Buzzfeed.

But Ukip rejected any similarities with the far-right group and claimed its campaigners had been duped.

“We have no connection with Britain First and reject any association with them,” a spokesperson told The Independent.

“A handful of our 200 campaigners on Saturday were photographed by Britain First without understanding the nature of the group and regret that very much.

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“They were identified, contacted, advised, and accepted all the sensible undertakings we asked for. A mistake of this nature will not happen again.

"As we have discovered, this is a typical technique of Britain First, a form of political photobomb, to pretend that they have support elsewhere. They do not."

Comments on Britain First’s Facebook page showed how close the group’s followers consider their values and Ukip’s.

One supporter wrote: “Both parties have the same goals and at times like this you need unity not division.”

“Oh a coalition maybe? I'll vote for that,” another added.

On the day the photo was taken, a video of Britain First’s activities in Rotherham showed candidate Ms Fransen being escorted out of the Conservative campaigning office and confronting a group of worshippers outside a mosque.

Claiming she “spoke for the British people”, she said the town would “suffer” if a proposed new mosque was built.

“Do the people of Medway want a repeat performance of what’s gone on in Rotherham?” she said.

“Is there any governing of what’s being spewed out of these mosques – the hatred, the incitement of violence, the incitement of terror, grooming gangs.

“What are you going to condemn that? Then you can have your mega-mosque when you can all prove you’re peaceful.”

The Gillingham Mosque, in Canterbury Street, is run by the Kent Muslim Welfare Association, which is a registered charity listing aims including “serving the wider host community and strengthening community cohesion”.

It also has a youth wing called KMWA Youth, which works to “create a healthy, well-balanced community” and promote religious tolerance.

The Rochester and Strood by-election was sparked when its Tory MP, Mark Reckless, defected to Ukip, who he is standing for in his bid for re-election.

A total of 13 candidates are listed to stand, including representatives from the Monster Raving Loony Party, People Before Profit and the Patriotic Socialist Party.

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