Thursday 8 December 2016

Britain First: Who are the far-right group whose name was 'shouted by Jo Cox gunman'?

Published 17/06/2016 | 10:20

Leader of Britain First Paul Golding
Leader of Britain First Paul Golding

The Leader of Britain First has distanced the far-right group from the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, despite several witnesses confirming that the killer shouted "Britain First" three times during the attack in Leeds on Thursday.

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"At the moment that claim hasn't been confirmed - it's all hearsay, Paul Golding said. "Jo Cox is obviously an MP campaigning to keep Britain in the EU so if it was shouted by the attacker it could have been a slogan rather than a reference to our party - we just don't know.

"Obviously an attack on an MP is an attack on British diplomacy - MPs are sacrosanct. We're just as shocked as everyone else. Britain First obviously is NOT involved and would never encourage behaviour of this sort.

In a video on the party’s website he said the media had “an axe to grind”. He added: “We hope that this person is strung up by the neck on the nearest lamppost, that’s the way we view justice.”

 

What we know about the group

Formed in 2011 by former members of the British National Party, Britain First has grown rapidly to become the most prominent far-right group in the country.

While it insists it is not a racist party, it campaigns on a familiar anti-immigration platform, while calling for the return of “traditional British values” and the end of “Islamisation”.

The party says on its website: “Britain First is opposed to all mass immigration, regardless of where it comes from – the colour of your skin doesn’t come into it – Britain is full up.”

Although it claims to have just 6,000 members, Britain First has managed to build an army of online fans, mainly by using social media to campaign for innocuous causes such as stopping animal cruelty, or wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day, and appealing for users to “like” its messages.

It now has more than 1.4 million “likes” on Facebook, more than any other British political party.

In a bid to garner newspaper coverage, the group has carried out mosque invasions and so-called “Christian patrols”.

A  march in January targeted Dewsbury, near Jo Cox’s Batley and Spen constituency, and featured 120 Britain First members carrying crucifixes and Union Jacks through the town.

Mrs Cox wrote on Twitter at the time: “Very proud of the people of Dewsbury and Batley today - who faced down the racism and fascism of the extreme right with calm unity.”

Britain First’s current leader, Paul Golding, stood against Sadiq Khan in the London mayoral election earlier this year.

After Khan’s victory, the group announced that it would take up “militant direct action” against elected Muslim officials.

In a chilling warning on its website, the group said: “Our intelligence led operations will focus on all aspects of their day-to-day lives and official functions, including where they live, work, pray and so on.”

The party has a vigilante wing, the Britain First Defence Force, and last weekend carried out its first “activist training camp” in Snowdonia, at which a dozen members were given “self defence training”.

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