Farage faces backlash over criticism of MP’s widower
Top Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage faced a backlash on Wednesday after linking the widower of British MP Jo Cox, who was assassinated by a neo-Nazi, to groups he labelled as “extremists”.
The row started on Tuesday when Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), blamed Monday’s deadly truck attack in Berlin on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise. Events like these will be the Merkel legacy,” he said following the arrest in the German capital of a Pakistani asylum-seeker who has since been released.
Brendan Cox, who has called his wife’s killing an “act of terror”, responded pointedly on Twitter saying: “Blaming politicians for the actions of extremists? That’s a slippery slope Nigel.”
Asked about the retort in an interview on LBC radio, Farage responded by lashing out at Cox.
“He would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox. He backs organisations like Hope Not Hate, who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful, but actually pursue violent and undemocratic means,” he said.
Cox gave no response but tweeted a Taylor Swift song with the line: “Haters gonna hate”.
Tracy Brabin, who replaced Jo Cox as MP in her northern English constituency, tweeted: “Beggars belief. A new low for Farage.”
Hope Not Hate was one of three charities chosen by Brendan Cox to receive donations in memory of his wife, who was shot and stabbed to death by far-right extremist Thomas Mair a week before Britain’s EU referendum in June.
Mair, who shouted “Britain first” before killing the pro-EU MP, was last month sentenced to life in prison for the killing.
Hope Note Hate, which aims to “challenge and defeat the politics of hate and extremism within local communities”, published a report last week about online hate speech following Cox’s murder.
It organises community meetings under the slogan #MoreInCommon, a phrase used by Cox in her maiden speech in parliament.
The organisation has begun crowdfunding for legal action against Farage, urging him to retract or apologise for the statement against them.
“That Nigel Farage made his remarks in the context of a discussion about Jo Cox, who was so brutally murdered earlier this year, makes them all the more poisonous and hateful,” the group said on its website.