Turning Point UK: Jacob Rees-Mogg and Tory MPs support new branch of ‘sinister’ right-wing US group

UK leaders include Bullingdon member who donated £30,000 to Conservative Party 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Monday 04 February 2019 14:51 GMT
Turning Point USA was founded by Charlie Kirk, now a prominent Donald Trump supporter
Turning Point USA was founded by Charlie Kirk, now a prominent Donald Trump supporter

Jacob Rees-Mogg and several Conservative MPs have been criticised for supporting a new right-wing group vowing to target British students.

Turning Point UK is an offshoot of American organisation Turning Point USA, which has links to Donald Trump’s administration and became notorious for creating a watchlist of “leftist” university professors that has drawn comparisons with McCarthyism.

Claiming to be the “biggest and most far-reaching youth organisation in America”, it says it espouses “freedom, free markets and limited government” and runs events sponsored by the National Rifle Association.

It has repeatedly denied racism accusations by former staff, and ejected several members following scandals over racial slurs.

But a report by counter-extremism group Hope Not Hate said Turning Point USA was “mainstreaming extreme views”, including the “white genocide” conspiracy theory and Islamophobia.

Founder Charlie Kirk is a prominent supporter of Mr Trump and has been photographed with Donald Trump Jr and other relatives of the president.

He is scheduled to visit British universities at a series of Turning Point UK events starting next month, which spokeswoman Candace Owens said would cause a “disruption in socialist ideology”.

The group says it aims to “educate students and other young people on the values of free markets, limited government and personal responsibility”.

Its chairman is George Farmer, a former member of Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club and the son of former Conservative treasurer Lord Farmer.

Public records show that Mr Farmer donated a total of more than £30,000 to the party in January and March 2018, and attended an elite “leader’s group” dinner with Theresa May, Boris Johnson and other Conservative ministers as a major donor.

Jacob Rees-Mogg supports the idea of a second referendum in 2011 speech to the Commons

Mr Farmer is engaged to Turning Point USA communications director Ms Owens, who is a high-profile supporter of the US president and critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Independent understands that Turning Point UK is not affiliated with the Conservative Party, but several MPs have voiced their support for the group since it launched on Friday.

Sharing a recruitment video, Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote: “People of all ages make up their own minds. The left has no monopoly on the ‘young’.”

Former international development secretary Priti Patel said the group represented a “new generation” of Conservative values and fellow Tory MP Chris Green wrote: “Choose your side and I’m with Turning Point UK.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan‏ MP said it was “great to hear the voices of young voters with right-wing views finding a new outlet” and Steve Baker MP claimed Turning Point UK “could be huge”.

Critics accused the MPs of supporting a group with “far-right connections” in the US, where Turning Point has been active since 2012.

Labour MP David Lammy wrote: “Sinister forces are taking hold of our country.”

The group’s social media launch swiftly degenerated into a trolling war as parody accounts and a fake website sprung up claiming to represent chapters across the UK.

Its website lists Mr Farmer as chairman and Ollie Anisfeld, the founder of YouTube channel J-TV, as CEO.

Other members include BeLeave and BrexitCentral founder Darren Grimes, who was fined £20,000 for breaking EU referendum spending laws last year.

Tom Harwood, a Guido Fawkes reporter who ran the student wing of the Vote Leave campaign, is also in the group alongside Leave Means Leave digital strategist Steve Edginton.

Mr Edginton also directs the pro-Brexit Politics UK YouTube channel and writes for the Westmonster website, which is co-owned by Arron Banks and Nigel Farage’s former press adviser Michael Heaver.

A launch event held for Turning Point UK in London last month was reportedly attended by right-wing figures including Leave.EU campaigner Andy Wigmore, InfoWars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson and Breitbart London editor James Delingpole.

A mission statement says Turning Point UK opposes the “dogmatic left-wing political climate, education system and radical Labour Party”.

It was criticised for using the name of a pre-existing charity that works to help people overcome drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and other issues. A spokesperson for the Turning Point charity said it had “no connection” to the group or any other political movements.

“Many people are concerned about the confusion,” the spokesperson added. “We would like to thank all the members of the public who have highlighted this issue and the support they have given to us as an organisation.”

Turning Point UK has not responded to The Independent’s request for comment.

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