Far-right groups and football hooligans ‘to descend on London during Palestinian march’

The most prominent far-right messaging has come from former leader of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson

Joe Middleton
Friday 10 November 2023 09:05 GMT
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Pro-Palestine protesters demand ceasefire during London march

Far-right groups and football hooligans are preparing to descend on London on Armistice Day as hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestine protesters march through the capital.

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), said it will march alongside activists for the fourth successive weekend as it calls on Israel to agree to a ceasefire after its bombardment of Gaza.

Remembrance events are taking place across the Saturday and Sunday, which has led to home secretary Suella Braverman urging the Met Police to ban the march.

The coalition of groups, which includes the PSC, Stop the War and the Muslim Association of Britain, insisted they will press ahead with the demonstration calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The planned route does not go near the Cenotaph on Saturday.

Now English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has spoken out against the demo, saying: “British men are mobilising for Saturday to be in London” to “show our Government and show our police and show Hamas and everyone sitting around the world saying ‘Britain has fallen’ that there is a resistance”.

A call to arms has also been issued on social media by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a right-wing organisation that uses football fan networks to spread Islamophobic hate.

A post on the group’s Facebook page says: “Vets have reached out and asked for our support due to the threat from the far-left and pro-Palestinian supporters to disrupt the Remembrance Day parade.

“We are calling on all football lads up and down the country to join us in standing shoulder to shoulder with our veterans that fought for our freedom.”

Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, a convicted fraudster, joined the British National Party (BNP) in the mid-2000s.

Tommy Robinson has been fined £900 for failing to turn up at a High Court hearing to be questioned about his finances (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He left the group in 2013 and left the UK in 2020 to live in Spain.

It is understood he is now in the UK and has been posting dozens of pro-Israel tweets after his X account was unbanned by Elon Musk last week.

In a video he called for people to turn up in London to show there is a “resistance” and that “the silent majority have had enough” on our “sacred day”.

A further video posted yesterday said people going to central London must behave with “respect” but should be “prepared to defend if we need to defend”.

Police officers in front of Britain First and EDL protesters on Embankment in London, April 2017

According to Hope Not Hate, an anti-racist campaign group, other disparate groups, such as football hooligans could also mobilise in London, leading to fears these fringe groups could be difficult for the police to marshal.

The Democratic Football Lads Alliance, who have been publicly supported by Robinson in the past, and accused of spreading Islamophobia, said they will be in London on Saturday and Sunday.

A post on the group’s Facebook page said: “Vets have reached out and asked for our support due to the threat from the far-left and pro-Palestinian supporters to disrupt the Remembrance Day parade.

“We are calling on all football lads up and down the country to join us in standing shoulder to shoulder with our veterans that fought for our freedom.”

Protesters clash with police during the Democratic Football Lads Alliance march in London in 2020

The i newspaper reported that messages in one anti-Islamic WhatsApp group, containing more than 1,000 members, call on people to “fight back” against pro-Palestinian protesters and referred to them as “Islamists”.

The National Front (NF) who were the driving force of fascist politics in Britain for decades, said it will march to the Cenotaph on Sunday afternoon.

Nick Lowles, CEO of HOPE not hate: “Parts of the far right are trying to mobilise against the pro-Palestine demonstration taking place this weekend around Central London. However, these are by no means united efforts across the groups intending to head to London on Saturday.

“What remains to be seen is whether these groups have the power to mobilise in the way that they could several years ago. Tommy Robinson, his supporters, football hooligans and other far-right groups have failed in recent years to drum up sizable numbers, but their appetite for confrontation could still pose a risk even if there is a small presence.”

This article was amended on November 10 2023. It initially quoted another media outlet as saying the group Patriotic Alternative had called for a presence in London, however this was inaccurate . The group has told people not to go to the capital. In a statement, it told the Independent: “We support the people of Palestine and their right to a safe homeland.”

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