Gerard Batten the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party has appointed the right-wing activist Steven Yaxley-Lennon as an adviser to the party on rape gangs and prison reform.
Yaxley-Lennon, known by his alias of Tommy Robinson (That he commonly used instead of his less birth name as leader of the English Defence League), made headlines last year by being charged of contempt of court twice in Canterbury and Leeds for attempting to film the private trial of girl grooming gangs, potentially derailing court proceedings and compromising the safety of the victims and defendants.
Nigel Farage, a former leader of UKIP, has called for the party to “get rid” of Gerard Batten for his decision to hire the far-right influencer and has accused Batten of “dragging us in a shameful direction” towards new right-wing Islamophobic party discourse.
Previously in the year, the Trump Administration came under fire for offering Yaxley-Lennon a chance to visit President Trump after lobbying from the American Right-wing newspaper, Breitbart, despite Yaxley-Lennon previous having been deported from the country as an illegal immigrant for trying to enter the country with a fake passport in 2013.
Yaxley-Lennon has previously been the leader of a far-right anti-Islamic group known as the English Defence League. The party first reached national news in 2009 following a large protest against what they believed was an Islamic radicalisation conspiracy within Birmingham, the group clashed with Anti-fascist protesters and the rally turned violent leading to numerous injuries.
Since 2009, the English Defence League has become the premier Anti-Muslim extremist group in the United Kingdom and has become a major lobbying group among far-right nationalist politicians.
The group’s upper leadership was implicated in a number of crimes, but prior to and during the group’s founding, including Yaxley-Lennon himself, who pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud in 2014 to the value of around £160,000, and a senior member of the group Leigh McMillan, who was jailed for sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl in the 1990s earlier this year.
The appointment of Tommy Robinson suggests a sudden capitulation within UKIP towards its more anti-immigrant, anti-Islam elements. For many years, the ‘libertarain’ side of the party has been in conflict with its more radical right-wing members and this appointment will certainly be seen as a decisive victory for those wishing to see UKIP entertain its more radical supporters. While this will also certainly push the party further into the backseat of Westminster politics, it could cement UKIP’s role as the Successor to the British Nationalist Party’s role as Westminster’s radical right-wing alternative party.