Tommy Robinson confirms bid to become MEP during rally in Manchester

Tommy Robinson confirmed he will stand in the forthcoming European elections at a rally of supporters on Thursday night.

The former English Defence League leader, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, spoke to around 300 people who gathered for the event in Manchester, pledging a “David versus Goliath” battle to represent the “betrayed” working class of England if elected as an Independent MEP in the North West.

The rally had offered free burgers and hot dogs from a catering van, until Robinson announced he had to stop giving away food after a call from police to tell him this broke electoral law on inducements to vote.

After further technical hitches with his PA system, he told supporters that people on council estates such as Wythenshawe, where the rally was held, had been “betrayed and forgotten” because enough did not vote.

Supporters at a barbecue and rally in Manchester for former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson (Peter Byrne/PA)

“Everyone is so disillusioned with the liars in Parliament, but that is also our weakness,” he said.

“It’s the reason we are being betrayed and will continue being betrayed, until they fear us.

“The only way they will fear us is if we take their seats.”

Robinson’s visit to the Wythenshawe estate, a huge post-war housing development on the edge of south Manchester, had been condemned by the local MP, Labour’s Mike Kane, and a group of local church and faith leaders.

But Robinson said for the next month he will campaign in working class communities across the North West to target those who “religiously” vote Labour.

Robinson said “diversity rules” but claimed 96% of MPs were middle class with privately educated children who “know nothing about the estates or communities we come from”.

He added: “Send them a message they will never forget. If we can do this over the next four weeks it will be historical. If we can turn this into votes, we will win.”

Shouts of “scum” broke out from supporters as he criticised purported sharia law advocates and the mainstream media.

Robinson will continue as an adviser to Ukip leader Gerard Batten, despite running against eight of the party’s candidates, a spokesman for Ukip said.

He is unable to join Ukip’s membership under party rules because anyone who has previously been an English Defence League member is banned.

Anti-extremism campaigners Hope Not Hate called for voters to sign up to oppose the “far-right thug”.

Chief executive Nick Lowles said: “Stephen Lennon is a far-right thug who uses his platform to bully, abuse and stir up division, monetising his hatred to rake in donations from his fans.

“The North West needs a voice of hope, not hatred.”

Ahead of the visit by Robinson, Mr Kane, speaking in the Commons, said the activist is “not welcome to spread his xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, racist vitriol in my community or in any other community”.

Mr Kane added: “He seeks to divide rather than to unite people. We do things differently in Manchester, we stand together against hate.”

Voters go to the polls on May 23, if the Euro elections go ahead which depends on whether agreement is reached over EU withdrawal.

- Press Association

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