Britain First, the far-right political party responsible for vigilante “invasions” of mosques and a campaign against the “Islamification” of Britain, has told its supporters to help deliver “major Ukip gains” at the general election.
Letters and leaflets currently being distributed by Britain First, a group formed by former British National Party members, effectively endorse Nigel Farage’s party.
The literature obtained by The Independent – carrying the signature of Britain First’s leader, Paul Golding – says its controversial activities “in the Muslim ghettoes” will combine with “major Ukip gains” to turn the election into a “game changer”. Claiming 2015 will be “the year of Britain First and Ukip”, the group forecasts a “resurgence of right-wing patriotism in Britain”.
Mr Farage has previously tried to distance himself from support and associations offered to Ukip from the extreme right, both in the UK and from hard-right groups inside the European Parliament. Britain First has said it “understands” how Ukip must play the “political game”, and told its supporters to “ignore Ukip’s necessary political bluster”.
At last year’s Rochester by-election – won by Mark Reckless, the former Conservative who defected to Ukip – campaign literature distributed by the group proclaimed: “Ukip at the ballot box, Britain First on the streets – a winning combination.”
Ukip recently abandoned strict targets and caps on immigration numbers as part of its central policy to “get back control over Britain’s borders.” Britain First wants “assisted repatriation”, a halt to further immigration, and the deportation of all asylum seekers. It also wants all foreign criminals to be deported without recourse to the law courts.
Although the Ukip leader cannot control who offers his party support, the endorsement from a group as extreme and controversial as Britain First will nevertheless be regarded as unwelcome and potentially damaging.
Last year the group, which has its origins in Ulster loyalism and anti-abortion campaigns, conducted “Christian patrols” in parts of East London where Muslim residents would have been offended by the action. The group said the “patrols” were a direct response to similar Muslim groups who, it was claimed, wanted Sharia Law enforced in some boroughs. Britain First activists were seen outside mosques holding banners announcing: “We are the British resistance.”
The group were also responsible for raids on mosques in Glasgow, Bradford, Luton and London. Bibles were offered to attending Muslim worshippers. During the 2014 European elections, Britain First put up candidates in Wales and Scotland. The party received just over 20,000 votes. In England it encouraged its supporters to vote for Ukip or the English Democrats. However, the party leader’s comment that 2015 was the year of “Britain First and Ukip” suggests that Mr Farage is now regarded as the preferred choice.
A Ukip spokesman said it was not embarrassing but farcical that Britain First was supporting them. “We’re just not where they think we are,” he said. “On the fringes of our politics are nutters and we don’t want them anywhere near us.”
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