The UK Independence Party MEP Nigel Farage has been condemned for his “disgusting” remarks accusing the widower of slain British MP Jo Cox of having links to extremism because of his support for campaigning group Hope Not Hate.
Farage’s comments came during a UK radio discussion on the Berlin Christmas market terror attack. The former UKIP leader now faces the prospect of legal action.
Speaking on Tuesday, Farage suggested that Brendan Cox “would know more about extremists than me” because of his connections to Hope Not Hate, a campaigning charity that seeks to combat political militancy, especially from far-right groups.
Farage, who has previously accused Hope Not Hate of disrupting his public events, said the group pursued “violent and undemocratic means”.
That prompted Hope Not Hate to warn Farage that he faces legal action unless he rescinds the “political smear” and apologises. There was no immediate response from Farage or UKIP about whether he would do this.
Reaction to Farage’s comments was swift, with Tracy Brabin, who replaced Jo Cox as a socialist Labour MP ,saying, “It beggars belief. A new low for Farage.”
Hope Not Hate challenges some of UKIP’s policies, but has repeatedly denied taking any direct action against him.
Farage’s comment were also condemned by Denis MacShane, a former UK Minister for Europe and a former president of Britain’s National Union of Journalists.
He told this website, “Hope not Hate is the most respected balanced research and campaign groups in Europe on the issue of anti-semitism, racism and xenophobia. It is sad that Nigel Farage has tried to cover up his dreadful statements about the Berlin massacre and Jo Cox’s death and his suggestion that Hope not Hate promotes violence which is just a lie.”
MacShane also criticised UK broadcaster the BBC for giving “unprecedented and uncritical coverage to Farage”.
“I do not approve of taking political rows to courts though I remember when [former French minister] Arnaud Montebourg tried to sue me in the French courts when I criticised his opposition to the EU constitutional treaty in 2005 but if Farage does not have the common decency to withdraw his disgusting remarks I can understand why many want to finance a legal case to force him to retract his odious statements.”