Boris Johnson condemned for ‘appalling’ Tory alliance with neo-Nazi and anti-Muslim parties across Europe

‘That the prime minister should think this is acceptable is a sad reflection of modern Tory politics,’ says former minister

JVL Introduction

Rob Merrick in the Independent reports on the Tory Party’s links with neo-facist and anti-Muslim parties across Europe.

Lord Balfe, Conservative peer protested to Boris Johnson when the European Conservatives Group in the Council of Europe invited the far-right so-called Democratic Alliance to join them.

For his pains he was kicked out of the group!

Read more below about the extraordinary company the Tories have chosen to keep.

This article was originally published by Independent on Sat 24 Oct 2020. Read the original here.

Boris Johnson condemned for ‘appalling’ Tory alliance with neo-Nazi and anti-Muslim parties across Europe

Exclusive: Tory peer reveals PM has refused to act – because it is ‘a long way away’ and ‘he can’t be on top of everything’

Boris Johnson is facing growing condemnation for an “appalling” Tory alliance with neo-Nazi and anti-Muslim parties across Europe, as a Conservative peer reveals how he has refused to act.

The extraordinary pact sees the party’s MPs sitting alongside the “heirs of Mussolini” in Italy and an Estonian party that celebrates its wartime collaboration with Hitler, among other far-right groups in the Council of Europe.

Yet, Lord Balfe reveals, his repeated attempts to persuade the prime minister to take action have been rebuffed – as he was told it was going on “a long way away and no one understands it”.

Instead, the peer was kicked out of the European Conservatives Group for protesting to No 10 after the group “invited in” the far-right so-called Democratic Alliance, he said.

“It’s appalling,” Lord Balfe told The Independent, “this group contains virtually every video nasty in the book and we should not be mixed up with them.”

Former Conservative cabinet ministers and anti-fascist campaigners are urging the prime minister to step in and sever his links with the extremist parties.

Stephen Dorrell, a former health secretary and now chairman of the European Movement, said: “That the prime minister should think this is acceptable is a sad reflection of modern Tory politics.

“To be making common cause with people whose values earlier generations of Conservatives took up arms against to resist.”

David Lidington, the former deputy prime minister and now chair of the Conservative Group for Europe, said “odd alliances” were sometimes formed in the Council of Europe.

But he added: “Having said that, I am deeply uncomfortable about the Conservative Party being associated with some of the political parties in this group.”

Downing Street was asked to respond to the criticisms of the prime minister, but declined to do so.

The agreement has boosted the power of Tory MPs in the council, a Strasbourg-based body that predates the EU and pushes for human rights and democracy across the continent.

The size of the 85-strong European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance (EC-DA) means it is in line for plum roles such as a rapporteur to troublespots, or to chair key committees.

The best-known far-right parties in the coalition are the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany and Italy’s Northern League, but others are even more extreme.

The Brothers of Italy was born out of the country’s fascist movement, while the first leader of the Freedom Party of Austria – once headed by the notorious Jorg Haider – was a Nazi minister and SS officer.

Lord Balfe said he has seen the Sweden Democrats “walk around Stockholm with swastikas”, while Bulgaria’s United Patriots “were elected on the basis that there were too many mosques”.

The Conservative People’s Party of Estonia attends an annual march to commemorate the Estonian Legion –  a unit of the Waffen-SS during the Second World War.

The anti-Nazi Simon Wiesenthal Centre has called the march a “serious concern” because “such ideas paved the way for extensive collaboration by the locals in the implementation of the Final Solution”.

One Sweden Democrat MP, Markus Wiechel, was exposed in 2013 for having referred to black people as “monkeys” and “retarded pension-rescuers” – criticising the idea of immigration to fund an ageing population.

The anti-fascist organisation Hope not Hate said Mr Johnson must “intervene immediately” and stop working with “extreme parties with a track record of racism and discrimination”.

“This group includes representatives from the Brothers of Italy, described by some as the heirs to Italian fascism. And for Tory politicians to have any association with figures like Markus Wiechel is a total disgrace,” said Dr Joe Mulhall, its senior researcher.

Lord Balfe said he met several times with government whips, but was told to drop the controversy – on one occasion, because he “can’t expect the PM to be on top of everything”.

But he added: “What would we say if the Labour Party said, ‘Let’s have the communists in’?”

Ian Liddell-Grainger, the Tory MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, is the chairman of the EC-DA grouping and is believed to have pushed for the pact with the Democratic Alliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (7)

  • steve mitchell says:

    I notice senior judges are warning of the danger to UK democracy from the Right. All the evidence is pointing that way.

  • CVA says:

    I am not that at all surprised in view of the Tory government passing the Covert Human Intelligence (Sources) Bill and the Overseas Operations Bill. From my point of view, both of them are fascistic, as they keep the appearance of democracy as they were voted in parliament; while at the same time subverting democracy by giving impunity to crimes committed by agents of the State: police, informants, British army members, British intelligence agents. Both Bills set future illegal actions by agents acting from the State (the government really) outside the remit of British Courts of Law. Hence, no that surprised that the Tories are formalising working arrangements with other European fascists.

  • Emma Gaiger says:

    Absolutely terrifying. It shows how dangerous the situation we are in is – with such extremists having been elected into power here.It is so important to research the facts before you vote. And the importance of a balanced and unbiased honest media is essential for the population to make informed decisions. Thank you to Rob Merrick for bringing these facts to people’s attention. I haven’t heard about this before and as far as I know I haven’t seen it reported on TV news yet.

  • What is noticeable is the silence of the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Anti-semitism. Not a squeak out of them still less daily briefings, tears and the shredding of clothes. No histrionics from Luciana Berger no walking out by Ruth Smeeth in tears. Nothing at all.

    Can anyone seriously maintain that the ‘antisemitism’ attacks on Corbyn and the Labour left had anything to do with ‘antisemitism’? If Corbyn, McDonnell had woken up to what was really happening they wouldn’t have done their best to expel as many ‘antisemites’ thus proving that their critics were correct and that Labour really was overrun by antisemitism.

    I fear though, judging by Carrie Murphy’s recent article in the Guardian, that they have learnt nothing.

  • This is a worrying but curious article by Rob Merrick: worrying because what has seemed to have gone under the radar since the beginning of March 2020, as the Pandemic moved centre stage, is that the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (dominated by the UK Tory Party and Poland’s ruling ultra reactionary PiS party) had invited in a new set of groups including AfD in Germany and Salvini’s far-right Italian party, as well as the Freedom Party in Austria, founded back in the 1950s by a former Nazi minister and SS officer.
    Other additions are Vlams Belang in Belgium (minor rebrand of Vlaams Blok which dissolved in 2004 after a trial condemned its racism), the far right Danish People’s Party, and the openly racist Conservative People’s Party of Estonia.
    After the Tories/PiS the strongest groups in the alliance by representation are Salvini’s then the AFD.
    But it’s curious too, since many of the most unsavoury groups represented in it, such as the Bulgarian United Patriots, who every year play a major part in organising a march through Sofia to celebrate a pro-Nazi general during the war who was assassinated by a Jewish anti-fascist partisan, were part of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the Euro Parliament for several years before the link up with additional far right groups.
    In recent years none of the mainstream papers/TV news channels/Panorama were prepared to publicise and condemn these actual links because they were so obsessed with trying to link Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour with antisemitism on the flimsiest “evidence”. They allowed the Tories a free pass on their real, formal, ongoing connections with antisemitic, Islamophobic, far right parties.
    I wonder if the EHRC will be interested too. Doubt it.

  • Anti-fascist says:

    The Tories have been at it with the extreme-right in Europe for years. Nothing new there at all. The rest of “British politics” has quietly permitted this. After all, who wants to fart in church? Or shine a strong light into such dark places?

    Tony Greenstein is absolutely right about the strange silence surrounding this affair and the Murphy article.

    As for Lord Balfe, he spent years trousering an MEP’s salary and lavish expenses, thanks very much, as a Labour MEP before becoming a turncoat. A great fighter…for Richard Balfe, no less.

  • Ian Kemp says:

    There are a number of people MPs in Labour party who should be considering their position. They went along with obvious false accusation of A/S . The object was to destabilise a Corbyn type Government. Corbyn himself should have been much more forceful in challenging these false claims. It was allowed to fester for too long. The likes of Austen, Streeting, Smeeth, Berger, after swearing directly at the elected leader Hodge, who should have been properly challenged and dealt with regardless of threats to sue.

    As it was anti-Semitism became a form of McCarthyism. Yes it was in The LP as research revealed, but only small amount. This was often based on ignorance or misunderstanding. It required fairness education rather than what at times appeared to be a gross over reaction resulting in dismissal rather than a measured careful approach regardless of what pressure, the media LBC newspapers including the Guardian , with Opinion writers like Freedland did or indeed wanted. They would just wanted to look for more scalps, by going through old posts and emails to pick up what they considered was an indiscretion or out context comment, or indeed ignorance.

    It is funny that all the allegations about A/S in LP have suddenly become rather quiet.

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