Donald Trump will no doubt be impressed. Trump’s favorite British politician, Nigel ‘Brexit’ Farage, wasted no time today in politicizing the Berlin Christmas market truck attack—blaming it on immigration and open borders across Europe—and then attacked as a supporter of extremism the widower of a pro-European British politician murdered during the EU referendum campaign.
Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox, became caught up in a war of words with Farage after criticizing the politician for saying the Berlin Christmas market attack would be Angela Merkel’s “legacy."
Jo Cox was murdered this summer by a far-right terrorist motivated by hatred for the MP’s pro-European stance.
The dispute began when Farage tweeted that the Berlin attack was “no surprise,” adding: “Events like these will be the Merkel legacy.”
Brendan Cox replied, accusing Farage of “blaming politicians for the actions of extremists.” He added in his tweet: “That’s a slippery slope Nigel.”
Farage responded to Cox on a national talk radio station, LBC.
Asked about the Twitter exchange with Cox, Farage said: “Well, of course, he would know more about extremists than me, Mr. Cox. He backs organizations like Hope Not Hate, who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful, but actually pursue violent and undemocratic means.”
Farage added: “And I’m sorry Mr. Cox, but it is time people started to take responsibility for what’s happened. Mrs. Merkel has directly caused a whole number of social and terrorist problems in Germany. It’s about time we confronted that truth.”
When the host pointed out that Cox knew well the consequences of extremism, Farage replied: “Yes, it’s a terrible thing what happened, with the murder of his wife.”
Hope Not Hate, which has 200,000 members and campaigns against discrimination, called Farage’s accusation “outrageous," and the group’s chief executive, Nick Lowles, later tweeted: “Hope Not Hate has sent Nigel Farage a legal letter demanding he retracts and apologizes or else we will start legal action.”
Hope Not Hate has a history of beefing with UKIP, and runs a blog called Purple Rain, which claims to put UKIP “under the magnifying glass” and parse their claims.
The group, which bills itself as “the UK’s largest anti-racism campaign, challenging organized hatred and working to strengthen communities” was criticized by Daily Beast writer Maajid Nawaz after it published a list, complete with profile photographs and career details, of 920 organizations and individuals in 22 countries, whom it deemed to be “anti-Muslim.”
Farage has regularly accused Hope Not Hate members of disrupting his meetings and events.
Asked on LBC how Merkel could be responsible for a truck potentially being hijacked in Poland, Farage, referring to the Schengen agreement which allows passport-free movement of people across much of Europe, said: “Well, she supports Schengen as well, doesn’t she?”
He added: “There’s the point. These leaders of Europe support Schengen. They support the total free movement of people without borders. And the free movement of people doesn’t just mean the free movement of good people. It means the free movement of bad people, as well.”
In a statement, Hope Not Hate said Farage’s comments were “a political smear,” adding, “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.”