UKIP Leader Gerard Batten MEP today declared that he backs moves that could see political activist and journalists Tommy Robinson join his party.
He said the Tommy Robinson had shown ‘bravery’ and the party should make a special ‘exception’ to its rule banning ex-members of far-right groups such as the EDL or BNP from joining.
His swiftly timed intervention comes as UKIP’s governing body the National Executive Committee (NEC) will today hold a meeting where they will discuss a motion paving the way for Robinson’s membership of UKIP.
Mr Batten took to Twitter to make clear to his followers what he wanted by saying: “To be absolutely clear about this: all that will be decided today is whether a motion to Conference be allowed that would request the NEC to consider giving Tommy Robinson membership. If it goes forward that will be debated on 22nd Sept.”
Mr Batten said: “My personal opinion is that we should find a way of allowing Tommy Robinson to become a member. Because, for all his faults – and I’m sure he will admit he has got them – and his indiscretions, he is incredibly brave and he has stood up and defended people in the face of grave danger to himself.
And I am talking now about these victims of industrialised sexual abuse. He has got the sheer guts to stand up and defend those people. And my view is that in his case we should make an exception, a one-off.”
He continued: “Not everybody who has joined the BNP over the years is a bad person – they may have made a mistake because of a lack of understanding about the origin of these parties
But we have had a blanket ban on these people because we have to protect ourselves from infiltration. Now about Tommy Robinson, we have to keep that blanket ban because we can’t tell the people who made a mistake from the outright racists and people we wouldn’t want to have in the party.
But my personal opinion – and I’ve had various meetings with Tommy Robinson and [Ukip peer] Lord Pearson is a supporter of Tommy Robinson… – and I think he is a very special case. He has explained that when he joined the BNP, he didn’t really know what they were about, he was quite young, he wasn’t particularly politically sophisticated.
Once he found out what they were about – when they refused entry to a friend of his because he was black – then he left the party The EDL didn’t start out as an extreme right-wing party. But Tommy Robinson will tell you himself that it was infiltrated, and that’s why he left.”