Prominent Conservative Party backbencher Jacob Rees Mogg has defended his decision to promote a speech by the leader of the far-right German political party, Alternative for Deutschland (AfD).
Mr Rees Mogg tweeted a video of AfD Co-Leader Alice Weidel criticising the European Union in a speech in the Bundestag. Whilst the video shared by Mr Rees Mogg was itself innocuous, AfD has a long and well known history of racism, xenophobia, Holocaust denial and antisemitism. Ms Weidel has also made concerning comments in the past, referring to the current German government as “pigs and puppets of World War II’s victorious powers.”
AfD has a long history of problematic language and policies. AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland has said: “Hitler and the Nazis were but a bird s*** in over a thousand years of Germany’s prolific history”, while in 2017 he called for Germans to “have the right to be proud of the contributions German soldiers made in both world wars.” Martin Hohmann, another AfD parliamentarian, said prior to the formation of the AfD that it was unfair Germans were still portrayed as a nation of murderers while no one talked about how “Jews were active in great numbers” in atrocities committed during the Russian Revolution.
AfD has also long supported the banning of circumcision and kosher animal slaughter, which would drive out Germany’s Jewish community.
When challenged on this, Mr Rees Mogg defended his use of the material, stating whilst on LBC that he doesn’t believe that “re-tweeting is an endorsement of things that other people stand for. It’s just pointing out that there’s something interesting that’s worth watching.” This argument is dangerous and promotes and legitimises groups who have no business being close to power.
This is not the first controversial group linked to Mr Rees Mogg. In 2013, he spoke at a dinner for the Traditional Britain Group, which has called for black Britains to be “repatriated”. He said that he felt “very silly”, adding: “I can entirely disassociate myself with the Traditional Britain Group as I have never been a member.” He later told BBC’s Newsnight: “I clearly made a mistake. I think the postings that we’ve recently seen are so deeply disgraceful and shocking that they have no place in decent political debate…I clearly didn’t do enough work to look into what they believed in.”
Part of the way that far-right populists operate is to gain a platform with legitimate — though controversial — statements, occasionally peppering them with extremism and hatred. British politicians should not be promoting their content and adding to their audience. By now, Mr Rees Mogg should know better.
The AfD leader asks "Is it any wonder the British see bad faith behind every manoeuvre from Brussels?" https://t.co/hc7wtyLkiA— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) March 31, 2019