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David Lammy says comparing ERG to Nazis 'not strong enough'

The Guardian logo The Guardian 14/04/2019 Jessica Elgot Chief political correspondent
David Lammy is a vocal campaigner for a second referendum. © AFP/Getty Images David Lammy is a vocal campaigner for a second referendum.

David Lammy has said comparing the hard Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs with Nazis and proponents of South African apartheid was “not strong enough”, and suggested that the Brexit debate has allowed proponents of hard right views to flourish.

The Labour MP, who is a vocal campaigner for a second EU referendum, was asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show whether a comparison he previously made to the election of Adolf Hitler’s party in Germany and to South African white supremacists was appropriate.

“I would say that that wasn’t strong enough. In 1938 there were allies who hatched a plan for Hitler to annex part of Czechoslovakia, and Churchill said no, and he stood alone,” he said.

Asked if it was fair to make such a comment about elected politicians, he said: “I don’t care how elected they were: so was the far right in Germany.”

Mark Francois (left), Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, and the vice-chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), in conversation with anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray (right) at College Green in Westminster, London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images) © PA Wire/PA Images Mark Francois (left), Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, and the vice-chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), in conversation with anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray (right) at College Green in Westminster, London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)

Lammy pointed to the contact between the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Donald Trump’s former senior advisor Steve Bannon, as well as a tweet from the ERG chair, Jacob Rees-Mogg, quoting the Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland party.

“We must not appease. Let me just be clear, I’m an ethnic minority. We have, in the ERG, in Jacob Rees-Mogg, someone who is happy to put on to his web pages the horrible, racist AfD party, a party that’s Islamophobic and on the far right,” he said.

“I’m sorry, but very, very seriously, of course we should not appease that, of course we should not appease that.”

Conservative Party MP and European Research Group chairman Jacob Rees Mogg leaves his house, London on March 28, 2019. The Commons failed to find a majority for a way forward after voting for eight different options on Wednesday. Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that she will quit once Brexit will be delivered, if her withdrawal agreement is approved. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images) © Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto Conservative Party MP and European Research Group chairman Jacob Rees Mogg leaves his house, London on March 28, 2019. The Commons failed to find a majority for a way forward after voting for eight different options on Wednesday. Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that she will quit once Brexit will be delivered, if her withdrawal agreement is approved. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Rees-Mogg has defended his decision to tweet a video of a speech by a senior member of the AfD, saying he did not endorse the party’s views but that the opinions expressed had “real importance”.

Rees-Mogg wrote in the original tweet: “The AfD leader asks: ‘Is it any wonder the British see bad faith behind every manoeuvre from Brussels?’”

Lammy said broadcasters including the BBC were allowing “this extreme hard right fascism to flourish”.

He said he was deeply concerned about the future of the country if Brexiters such as Rees-Mogg and Johnson took control of the Conservative party. “What kind of country are we going to be like if these people are running it?” he said.

In pictures: An upended crane and other striking photos of the week [Photos]

Asked if he was saying that Rees-Mogg and Johnson were the modern-day equivalent of Nazis, Lammy said: “Ask Boris Johnson why he’s hanging out with Steve Bannon.”

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