Far-right groups are exploiting Brexit to enter the political mainstream, an expert has warned.
According to Matthew Feldman, Director at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, Brexit is allowing far-right groups to widen their appeal.
Speaking to Scram News, he said of these groups:
“They absolutely are trying to reach the mainstream, and to a degree Brexit offers that.”
His comments echo research undertaken by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. In a report published last month, the institute analysed far-right groups and found they were trying to dominate mainstream political topics, not least Brexit.
The report said: “Distrust for the EU has translated into fervent support for Brexit from each group.”
It added: “Several activist groups in the far-right are attempting to transition into mainstream politics.
“These groups are trying to dominate the narrative on key political and social issues, including immigration, Brexit and Islam.”
These concerns about the normalisation of the far-right coincide with Tommy Robinson’s increasingly vocal support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. We revealed yesterday that Robinson had officially declared his support for the new PM, after being released from prison last week.
Research for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue undertaken two months after the result of the Brexit referendum also found that the accounts of far-right groups and individuals grew disproportionately after Brexit.
Speaking to the Guardian, Matthew McGregor of HOPE not hate added that the far right “see themselves as the shock troops of Brexit now”, and the Independent recently reported on plans by far-right groups to hold a riot to stand up for no-deal Brexit.
Feldman adds that the underlying principles of Brexit are in keeping with wider far-right views. He said:
“The views on Brexit advocated by these radical right figures are very in keeping with the Rule Britannia xenophobia of eras past – more like a social Darwinistic view of international relations than the attempts at collaboration that marks the European Union.”
Feldman said that while not all Brexit supporters are racist, all “racists” and “extremists” voted for Brexit. He said: “Virtually every racist or radical right extremist appears to have voted for Brexit, on the understanding that it would bring about fewer ‘foreigners’”.
He also said that while the far-right was drifting to the mainstream, the mainstream was also pandering to the far-right.
“It seems the mainstream is rushing to meet [the far-right] in the UK, I regret to say, whether it’s in the form of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, or in the anti-Muslim prejudice of his old outfit, UKIP. With these latter two parties, Brexit is at the core of their identity.”
Given our research into the anti-Islam views of Brexit Party candidates, we’d say Feldman has a strong case.