More than 5,000 members of an Islamophobic far-right group in Britain joined the leading Conservative Party in recent weeks, according to local media reports.
The fringe group Britain First said their support for Tories came with the stance adopted by the leading party toward “radical Islam.”
The leaders of Britain First, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were jailed last year for hate crimes against Britain’s Muslim minority.
“We will support a party that is willing to take a firm stance against radical Islam and it looks like the Tories are willing to do that,” Ashlea Simon, the group’s spokeswoman, was quoted by local press, including the Guardian.
“The majority of our followers appreciate [Home Secretary] Priti Patel’s and [Prime Minister] Boris Johnson’s hardline approach,” said Simon whom British officials questioned previously under terrorism laws last October after a trip to Russia.
Britain First members’ registering as Tory members came after the Dec. 12 election victory for the Conservative Party that has been urged repeatedly to launch an investigation into Islamophobia within the party ranks.
Johnson said during the election campaign an investigation would look into all discrimination in the party -- a pledge British Muslims were not satisfied with.
The group’s leader Golding claimed to have joined the party, but the membership was not confirmed by the Tories, according to reports.
Golding last week said he liked the "cut of the cloth" of the prime minister after he described Muslim women who wear the all-covering burqa as looking like "letterboxes", referring to an article by Johnson in which he described Muslim women wearing burqa and niqab as “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.”
"He [Johnson] is more of a populist leader and I think in recent weeks he has nailed his colors to the mast against immigration and being for Brexit," he said.
Golding was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, and his deputy Fransen received 36 weeks, for “religiously aggravated harassment” last year.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s official Twitter account in November 2017 retweeted a series of inflammatory anti-Muslim videos originally posted by Britain First leaders.
The three clips were previously tweeted by Fransen, who was previously convicted in November 2016 of religiously aggravated harassment.
Shortly after Trump's retweets, then-Prime Minister Theresa May described the group as “a hateful organization."
Britain First is well known in the U.K. for anti-Muslim outbursts, anti-mosque protests, and street and online provocations.
It was founded by former members of the British National Party in 2011.
Golding and his deputy Fransen were arrested numerous times and both received convictions.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.