Britain First claims 'hundreds' of people want to join after Donald Trump retweeted it

President's spokeswoman rejects suggestion his posts had 'elevated' the group

Friday 01 December 2017 02:25 GMT
Mr Trump stirred up international outrage
Mr Trump stirred up international outrage (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The far-right group Britain First has boasted of gaining hundreds of new membership applications after Donald Trump shared anti-Muslim videos it had posted online, sparking a transatlantic row with Theresa May.

Britain First leader Paul Golding also said the group’s Facebook posts were reaching hundreds of thousands more users.

The 35 year-old told The Times: “We have had hundreds of new membership applications and our organic Facebook reach has increased by hundreds of thousands.”

The Prime Minister has said Mr Trump was “wrong” to retweet videos posted by Britain First’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen, which she condemned as a “hateful organisation” dedicated to spreading division and mistrust.

The extraordinary flare-up between the two key allies came after Mr Trump responded directly to her assertion – originally made through her official spokesman – that his re-postings had been wrong.

In a trademark tweet, he wrote: “Theresa-May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”

Mrs May has since rejected calls to cancel his controversial state visit, despite an outcry from MPs, insisting she remained committed to the “special relationship” between the UK and US.

Pressed on whether the president’s state visit should still go ahead, Mrs May said they had “yet to set a date”.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday rejected suggestions Mr Trump’s comments had “elevated” a far-right group little known outside the UK.

“I think what he’s done is elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat and that’s extreme violence and extreme terrorism, something that we know to be very real and something the president feels strongly about talking about and bringing up and making sure is an issue every single day,” she told a White House press briefing.

In pointed remarks apparently aimed at Mr Trump on Thursday, Mrs May said it was essential to deal with terrorism and extremism “from whatever source they come”.

Asked whether she regarded the president as a “supporter and enabler” of far-right groups, Mrs May said: “We must all take seriously the threat that far-right groups pose both in terms of the terrorist threat that is posed by those groups and the necessity of dealing with extremist material which is far-right as well.

“I’ve commented in the past on issues in the United States on this matter. In the United Kingdom we take the far-right very seriously and that’s why we ensure we deal with these threats and this extremism wherever it comes and whatever its source.”

In a further sign of the seriousness of the row, Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, said he had raised the Government’s concerns with the White House.

Brendan Cox, whose MP wife Jo was murdered by a man shouting “Britain first”, praised politicians and media figures for criticising Mr Trump, tweeting: “Can’t remember the last time everyone from jeremycorbyn to theresa-may, DanielJHannan to HackneyAbbott, OwenJones84 to piersmorgan, has been on the same side.

“Thanks realDonaldTrump for reminding us that we have #moreincommon and no time for hatred.”

Meanwhile, Theresa Scrivener, the Bognor woman to whom Mr Trump initially misdirected his tweet to Mrs May, told the Press Association she was now awaiting an apology for the White House. “I’m just glad he was not contacting me to say he was going to war with North Korea,” she added.


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