BECOME A MEMBER

Introduction

The Brexit Party comfortably won the European Elections in May, setting off a huge political earthquake. They have dropped off the news agenda since the elevation of Boris Johnson to Prime Minister, but the Brexit Party surge in the polls shows no sign of being a flash in the pan. Their role could be significant in a looming General Election, and it is possible that the party could have MPs in the next parliament.

But who are the Brexit party, and how worried should we be?

The threat from this party is very real. Nigel Farage is dangerous, and has used racism and Islamophobia to stir up division.

  • Farage’s anti-migrant “Breaking Point” poster in the EU referendum of 2016 was condemned as “vile” by people from across the political spectrum.
  • He claimed he would be concerned if Romanians moved in next door to him.
  • During the 2015 general election campaign, Farage became known for the “shock and awful” TV debate strategy, in which he deployed misleading statistics about foreigners with HIV.
  • Farage blamed immigrants for making him late to one of his own events, stating “That has nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a country in which the population is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be.”
  • Following the Westminster attack Farage spoke of a “fifth column living inside these European countries” on Fox News. “If you open your door to uncontrolled immigration from Middle Eastern countries you are inviting in terrorism”, said Farage. Farage even contrived to spin the tragedy to condemn opposition to Trump’s proposed Muslim travel ban.
  • He claimed that parts of Britain were “unrecognisable” and “like a foreign land”. He had also claimed he felt uncomfortable when he heard people speaking other languages on the train.

Farage’s far-right connections across Europe and the United States are absolutely toxic. He has cosied up to extreme figures across the world. Nigel Farage has more in common with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin than with the common sense values of British people.

  • Nigel Farage is a close ally of Donald Trump, standing side by side with the President of the United States, as he has poured abuse on immigrants, hurled racist abuse at his opponents, and made appalling sexist comments. 
  • He has promoted the far-right AfD party in Germany, whose leaders have engaged in vitriolic Islamophobia and anti-immigrant campaigns. One AfD leader even attacked the erection of a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
  • Farage campaigned for far-right French leader Marine Le Pen, despite having previously condemned her party for “prejudice and antisemitism”.
  • He also supported Roy Moore’s Senate campaign in September 2017. Moore has been accused of sexual assault, including by one woman who claims she was fourteen at the time of the alleged assault. Farage campaigned for Moore after these allegations. During a campaign appearance in Alabama, Farage said Moore’s election was “important for the whole global movement across the West that we have built up & we have fought for”.
  • He has claimed that he “admires” Victor Orban, saying that he is “the strongest and best leader in the whole of Europe”.
  • Farage is a long-time associate of Steve Bannon, former strategist to Trump and former head of far-right news outlet Breitbart News Network (where Farage once held a column). Farage has even given him a portrait of Bannon dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte.

While Farage is, by far, the most high profile figure in the Brexit Party, he is backed by a party that is rife with bad actors.

The party’s first leader, Catherine Blaiklock resigned abruptly after being exposed by HOPE not hate as having an extensive history of social media racism and had frequently retweeted neo-Nazi content. The party’s Treasurer was sacked after being exposed over antisemitism social media posts. A Brexit Party campaign coordinator was sacked after a newspaper highlighted his previous BNP membership.

These people are not isolated cases:

Even after attacking UKIP for being taken over by the far right, Nigel Farage said that “there is no difference” between UKIP and the Brexit Party. Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party want to present a mainstream image but time and time again, people with extreme views have found their political home in this movement.

The Developing threat

The threat of the Brexit party is partly electoral: they played a major role in the Peterborough byelection, and are likely to be a major factor in a looming General Election. We can expect that most, if not all of their candidates will hold rightwing populist views, at best. Needless to say, the presence of these people in the next Parliament poses a serious threat to our vision of a hopeful, tolerant country.

But the threat is not only electoral. By becoming a serious electoral threat, the Brexit Party is already moving the political debate. We need to provide our own pushback against their politics of division, and to help shape the pushback of other progressive forces. HOPE not hate and its supporters will play our part in that pushback.