More than 5,000 supporters of Britain First have joined the Conservative Party in recent weeks attracted by what they describe as Boris Johnson’s negative attitude towards Islam, according to the group’s spokeswoman.
The organisation, whose leaders were jailed last year for hate crimes against Muslims, said the Prime Minister’s approach towards “radical Islam” had encouraged the majority of its membership to join the party.
Britain First’s spokeswoman, Ashlea Simon said: “We will support a party that is willing to take a firm stance against radical Islam and it looks like the Tories are willing to do that.”
Simon added that Johnson’s hardline response to November’s London Bridge terror attack corroborated the notion he would be firm on the issue. “The majority of our followers appreciate [Home Secretary] Priti Patel’s and Boris Johnson’s hardline approach,” said Simon, who was questioned under terrorism laws at Heathrow airport last October after a trip to Russia.
Simon said Britain First members wanted to form a movement of far-right activists within the Conservative Party that would back Johnson in the same way supporters of Momentum joined Labour to solidify Jeremy Corbyn’s grip on the party.
Days after his election victory, Johnson dropped a promised inquiry into levels of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.
Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League, recently told followers on the encrypted messaging service Telegram that he has become a paid-up member.
The leader of Britain First, Paul Golding, also claimed to have joined the Conservatives, though the party said his membership application had not been approved.
Last year Golding was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, and his deputy, Jayda Fransen, to 36 weeks, for religiously aggravated harassment.
Britain First, which describes itself as a “patriotic political party that will put our own people first”, has protested against the construction or extension of mosques and wants halal meat to be banned.