Having harpooned a dozen-odd pork belly bites into his gob with a toothpick, Tommy Robinson rearranges his main course, next to three ramekins of ketchup.
Sweet potato fries are flipped from their bucket with one hand onto his plate, before the empty vessel is stuffed, like a rubbish bin, with a tuft of rocket, which he simultaneously snatches up with the other. Three vine tomatoes - which also accompanied the “plain, no chilli” chicken, are next to go, placed atop the bucket like cherries.
Robinson, 32, has plain tastes, “flaming hot Monster Munch are too hot for me. English taste buds,” he says, sitting in a leather booth in the restaurant of his mate’s refurbished bar – The White Hart.
Baby-faced and a boy’s height - 5’8 at best - with black baggy cargo trousers, matching sneakers and t-shirt – all from Stone Island, which he flogs at mate’s rates on Twitter, for an extra few bucks - Robinson hardly looks like the Enemy Of The State – the title of his new book, about himself. Well about Tommy Robinson, the man he has pretended to be since 2009.
Tommy Robinson, dressed in army fatigues, leading the English Defence League in 2013
STEPHEN Yaxley-Lennon is Robinson’s real name, well, sort of.
It’s the one used when he’s not being Islamophobic on the Internet, in interviews, or when giving speeches, and what police and his family call him. His children – two girls, four and eight, and a boy, six, don’t know about their Dad’s alter-ego, “sometimes I just go away for work” – code for Dad’s in the clink – and his wife doesn’t want to know (Tommy Robinson, the alter-ego, isn’t welcome at the Yaxley-Lennon household). According to Robinson, his name “just depends where you met me”. He was born Stephen Yaxley, to an Irish immigrant mother and an English father, but when his mother re-married, his surname became double barrelled – Yaxley-Lennon – although, often he is just Stephen Lennon. Like most things concerning Robinson – a convicted fraudster - his real name isn’t clear. In September 2012 Robinson pretended to be Andrew McMaster – a friend he bore some resemblance to – so he could illegally enter the US. He can’t travel there because he’s been convicted of possessing a Class A drug. Sentencing him to 10 months jail in January 2013, Judge Alistair McCreath, noted Robinson’s legitimate passport lists him as Paul Harris, a matter he chose not to delve into. Robinson confirmed to Huffington Post UK his passport lists him as Harris, but ignored a request to elaborate in a decision tinged with irony, given he's repeatedly accused UK authorities of censoring, and preventing him from "telling the truth".
On the real Tommy Robinson – whose name he took when he formed United People of Luton, and later the English Defence League (EDL) - Robinson is more forthcoming. First setting the scene by declaring he is about to be truthful.
“If I’m honest,” he said, before affirming his intentions more directly: “In all honesty.”
“I should have shown Tommy more respect than that.”
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The real Tommy Robinson is a former top-boy football hooligan with the Luton Town MIGs who later wrote two books about his 25-years of supporting his team with his fists. A career noteworthy enough to see Britain’s most dangerous prisoner, Charles Bronson, write the foreword for one of them.
“I used (Tommy’s name) due to the influence of a poisonous uncle I had, who were jealous of Tommy his whole life. And it was his influence telling me, when I was using different names (they included Mikey and Wayne King – “it sounds like wanking, when you say it. Victoria Derbyshire introduced me, ‘now we have Wayne King’, and I was cracking up” Robinson explained). He was like, ‘use Tommy Robinson, use Tommy Robinson, it will get all the heat on him’.
“I shouldn’t of done it.”
Robinson is Yaxley-Lennon's most successful false identity yet – he has 110,000 Twitter followers - and just six weeks ago received the applause of 40,000 Germans he had never met at a Pegida rally in Dresden. His latest reincarnation – two years after leaving the EDL - sees Robinson “advising” the leadership of Pegida UK, officially announced Thursday, but leaderless by Saturday, after Timothy Scott, had, in his own words, an “epic fail” first interview with Channel 4. He couldn’t explain the “big truth” about (the dangers) Islam, something Robinson has done poisonously well, for over a decade.
Timothy Scott during his first interview as the leader of Pegida UK, a position he stepped down from days later
Enemy of the State, according to the book's jacket, is as an “explosive life story”.
In it, Robinson describes growing up in a town – Luton - “blighted by extremism and criminal gangs” and how the “state set about destroying my life" from the moment he led a street protest in support of British troops.
A more fitting title perhaps may have been the 'Enemy Within', as Robinson, rather than the state, has dismantled his own life - kicking it off by slamming his foot into a cop's head at 21, ending a career that had barely started after a five-year apprenticeship.
Robinson has opposed radical Islam since the early 2000s, but in tackling it with a football hooligan’s mentality, he has effectively become the very thing he set out to oppose – a hate preacher (he has been compared to Anjem Choudary). In Luton - one of only three white British-minority towns in the UK, according to the 2011 national census – Robinson saw the “fucking dangerous” religion take hold, and claims he warned - like a prophet of doom - of the tectonic-like social changes, that have, in part, led to the problems world leaders are now struggling to solve - the worst migrant crisis since the Second World War, the rise of the Islamic State – and more locally, Muslim grooming gangs (a claim partly vindicated by the Rotherham report in to sex crimes in the town between 1997 and 2013).
Robinson arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court on September 11, 2013 in London charged with obstructing police
From Robinson’s book: "While I was in prison I watched the rise of Islamic State, the publication of the Rotherham report (into child sexual exploitation in the town between 1997-2013). I saw Lutfur Rahman, the corrupt caliph of Tower Hamlets finally being exposed and rooted out at long last. I was sitting in a prison cell watching everything I had said over the past five years being vindicated. And yet I'd been persecuted for saying it more than the guilty culprits themselves."
Robinson was warned about immigrants from a young age with family members telling him: "Don't look at the Asians. Don't make eye contact… and I thought what the fuck am I walking around looking at the floor for."
Then, at school, “the minute you come out of the classroom the divide was clear”.
Robinson: "Whether in the playground, the dinner halls. They had their playground. We had ours. And that's not just our school. That's every school in Luton. There’s always been problems. I remember when we was at school, and there'd be clashes with other schools. Anyone, anyone, that had a clash with a Muslim, there'd be men outside the school waiting. Every time."
At home he learnt about grooming gangs first hand. Robinson says his cousin was a victim. In fact it was his “cousin’s cousin”, he later clarifies when quizzed. Like any good raconteur, Robinson’s narratives, are never derailed by facts.
"This was going on when I was 12 years old. So I'm listening to all the family. Hearing them crying. The girl’s gone missing. She's 14 years old. The police say she's a drug addict. She's a drug addict cause they got her on drugs mate. She'd climb out the window to get back to them for the drugs. Then she's waking up naked. Raped by them.”
Around the same time, in August 1995, Mark Sharp was murdered in Luton's High Town by a gang of Asian men as he walked to a takeaway to buy his 13-year-old son a kebab. The builder, 39, was clubbed with sticks and bars, kicked, then stabbed in the head. Sharp was friends with Robinson’s uncle. His son was Robinson’s age.
Robinson recalls: "It was in front of his son. Then they snap a knife off in his brain. He took three days to die. I remember all of those things."
After high school Robinson got an apprenticeship to study aircraft engineering at Luton Airport, but shortly after qualifying he was jailed for a year for assaulting an off-duty policeman. The conviction means he can’t work at an airport.
"I'm honest. I've always gotten, I've always gotten borderline, into scraps and that as a youth. It's just the truth," Robinson offers, when asked about his propensity for violence.
"I was sort of elevated... when I was growing up a lot of my family was involved in football hooliganism. So, like the people I was looking up to, like my cousins, were pretty instrumental in Luton's football hooliganism scene."
The officer had come to the rescue of Robinson's then girlfriend - now wife (who he asked the Huffington Post UK not to name as it would “endanger her and my kids”). The couple were “drunk arguing” at 3am. The cop wanted to walk Robinson’s girlfriend home.
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Robinson: “I was being heated, and arguing, but I've never, ever, ever, ever, ever assaulted my missus and my wife. So I'm like, 'fuck off man, what-you-talking-about'."
At that point Robinson said the officer "rugby tackled him" to the floor.
"I'm a young 23, 21-year-old lad and I'm pissed up, like to fight, and we're fighting, so I started fighting him, and when he's gone down to the floor."
Speaking in a low-voice now: "I've kicked him in the head." The officer told the court he showed Robinson his badge. Robinson says the officer made that up to "cover his own ass, cause he's a copper. Fucker."
Jail made Robinson "an angry young lad who didn't give a fuck about much".
"I fucken hated the police. I hated the system. And I was sorta-like, there was a few times I thought, 'nah fuck you man, fuck...' that's how I felt. I felt like I shouldn't of gone to jail for what I did. He had a black eye. So did I.
"And I've come out of jail now so you've taken the fear out of me getting in trouble because it was a joke. Mate, it's a breeze, ya-know-what-I-mean? I like a male environment, I like being with the lads, I like havin a laugh. That's what I like. And it was just an extension of that ya-know-what-I-mean?"
Robinson, who has a sleeve of patriotic tattoos - including a crusader knight, poppy, Magna Carta, a Luton logo (he has the England flag on his leg) and a quote from Winston Churchill - found an outlet for his anger, and in turn his “identity” in football violence. And like a pied-pier, Robinson would later lure the lager louts from the stadiums to the streets, where they bared their chests for Britain, marching for the EDL. Robinson describes that time as a “few mad years”.
Robinson has a sleeve of patriotic tattoos, and has England inked on his leg
Robinson: "You find your identity in it (football). It's a culture. All the lads I've become friends with were at football. All the lads I relied on were at football. And Luton, if you've got problems, you need lads. And through those years we had some problems."
Robinson says one of his mates then converted to Islam. People he knew, left to fight for the Taliban, and he began reading "and seeing what we now see as Isis… some fucking dangerous shit”.
"What we then realised is that while we were sleeping and getting on with our lives, they're (Muslims) radicalising our town for like 10-15 years. Since the 80s. We don't even know what Islam is at this point. And around town there's this explosion of violence with white lads and black lads, everyone is coming on top, but the Muslims... they're smashing the fuck out of all of them."
September 1, 2004 was the "trigger" for Robinson, when Islamic terrorists kidnapped and killed 334 people, including 186 children, in the Beslan school siege in southern Russia.
In a media report following the massacre, Robinson recalls a "few Muslims in their chicken shop" were interviewed and said if the same thing occurred in a British school it would be justified. Islamist extremist group Al-Muhajiroun - once led by Anjem Choudhary, and founded by the "godfather of hate" Omar Bakri - were mentioned in the report, so Robinson looked them up. (The group became notorious for its September 2002 conference, "The Magnificent 19", praising the 9/11 attack as a great achievement).
"And for me that was mental. Shocking. The more I looked, the more fucking worried I got about this group."
That year Robinson, reportedly joined the British National Party, having earlier been a member of the British Freedom Party, and staged his first rally in Luton. Leaflets handed out mainly concerned claims a Muslim gang called the Gambinos were selling heroin from chicken shops - which he said police were ignoring. He linked the narcotic to radical extremists, and also warned of "all the things the EDL has said ever since".
Robinson, who by his own admission has "lots of mates involved in crime", said the focus on heroin was not a push to protect friends’ turf.
"If one of the lads started selling that (heroin) you'd get smacked up, because you're not selling that. It’s fucking destroying the whole place. Its a whole different ball game." Heroin, he claims is a "Muslim drug". Cocaine, “no one gives a fuck about”.
Moments earlier, Robinson had explained how he never likes to "back down", and “never shows fear”, but after the first rally he went very quiet; for several years: "It all came on top for me really. I was the target for all of them. All the Muslim gangs."
So instead of taking on radical Islam Robinson built himself an empire - most of which he has since lost.
While doing his engineering apprenticeship, Robinson also worked for a property-developer friend, "this Dave fella" - a Merrill Lynch contractor. Robinson worked all night, every Friday, for two years, "doubling his apprentice wage". Dave, "knew I was a grafter", so when his plumber left, Robinson got his contracts. He wasn't qualified, but "knew enough about the basics", and was soon doing £70,000-£80,000 contracts and employing six people.
By 2007 Robinson, now a father-of-one, had two businesses - plumbing and a sun bed shop – and an expanding portfolio of rentals. A property developer mate from Milton Keynes, "who had the property market sewn up, gave me some backhanders" - properties repossessed from the bank, which Robinson bought cheap, renovated, and rented out. He claims to have owned seven. The solarium was in a vacant unit Robinson rented from the developer.
“So things was going well, until 2009,” Robinson recalled.
On March 10 of that year about a dozen people, from Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah - a splinter group of Al-Muhajiroun - shouted "terrorists" and held placards saying "Anglian soldiers go to hell" and "butchers of Basra" during a Luton homecoming parade for soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment.
"This was an opportunity for the town to come and thank em, you-know-what-I-mean? Their (the soldier's) mum's are there and they spat in Scott's (a local soldier who had died on duty) mum's face."
St George's Day celebrations, due about five week later, then got cancelled: "I was like hold on a minute, cause of these fucken idiots… It's the only day the English have a day. So we felt marginalised,” Robinson said, having earlier admitted Luton Borough Council cancels it every year.
Hate preacher Anjem Choudary
"They actually sent out letters to the kids saying if you bring the emblems of St George you'll be sent home from school. So my point of view is your sending out a message to all of our kids that they should be ashamed of who they are, ashamed of their culture, their country. You’re always feeling that inferior feeling because you're English. They can protest against our soldiers... they can spit at our soldiers... they can do whatever they want."
Two months later, in May 2009, Robinson started the United People of Luton (UPL), which he said, was more of a family-affair, than the “raging mob of hooligans”, it was later made out to be. The group planned to march to the war memorial to “show support for the armed forces”, and set-up a petition to ban Al-Muhajiroun from recruiting outside Don Millers bakery in Arndale, “instead we got Asbo’d ourselves”.
The first United People of Luton march; the group later became the English Defence League
On the day of their first rally police stopped and searched the group, infuriating Robinson: “They even took our shoes off, our fucken shoes off bruv.”
Another march was planned, but not before Robinson called the “Old Bill” anonymously, warning that “the whole town is going to burn”.
Police later raided Robinson’s house along with “14 other lads” - all of whom were given “public order charges” and banned from entering the Luton town centre for three months.
The march went ahead as planned, with UPL members getting around the ban by hiding behind balaclavas. “I was just like, we're getting to that war memorial and no one is stopping us,” Robinson said, estimating that 500 “lads” turned out.
The group, Robinson said, felt “repressed”, by police, who were “taking the fucken piss… treating us differently.” In a sign of Robinson’s growing media savvy, the UPL spent £450 hiring a professional photographer to ensure they had quality images to “show the world what was happening” in Luton.
“Those sorts of pictures, they look menacing, don’t they,” Robinson says, pulling out his phone to reveal an image of himself in a balaclava at the rally.
“So you can imagine when they started hitting the Internet.”
Robinson hides his identify behind a balaclava while giving the victory sign during a United People of Luton march
Local authorities later told media that “outsiders” had come in and caused the trouble that Robinson wanted to take credit for: “I remember thinking, now we’re the outsiders. Now we’re fucken outsiders. We’re from fucken Luton.”
A third planned rally, Robinson claims, was never going to proceed, but when officers patrolled the streets on the proposed date local Muslims came out to protest "and were smashing the Old Bill with rocks, fireworks, every thing in Berry Park”.
A riot took place in Berry Park on the day a third UPL march was to take place
Robinson was arrested that day on suspicion of driving a “ringer” – a stolen car, an event he claims was the start of the state’s campaign against him (his car wasn't stolen). Robinson refuses to accept police may have been trying to take him off the streets for his own protection, saying: “This was just the start of their (police) tactics. But these tactics didn’t work on me. They enraged me.”
The UPL then began following Islamic preachers wherever they were recruiting, leading Robinson to see “them converting this kid called Sean to Islam” while he was out shopping in Birmingham. “Un-fucking-believable, they’re converting kids in shopping malls now,” Robinson thought at the time.
Realising the problem was “bigger than Luton” – three months later the group changed their name to the EDL, whose numbers swelled from several hundred to several thousand within months, something that scared Robinson. He had assumed “someone would take over”. They never did.
“When I realised how important it had become to people, I thought someone would take it over, someone from middle class, because I’m just this 26-year-old kid. I’m on a building site one week, the next I’m leading this massive fucking street protest.”
Robinson said during the EDL’s first few demos, “we weren’t turning up there on the piss. We wasn’t turning up there for a fight.” But that soon changed.
Reflecting on his time with the EDL, Robinson says he can now see “the error of my ways.”
“I can see the drinking culture. I was part of that drinking culture. I was one of those people that done the same, you-know-what-I-mean? It’s not the way to hold a demonstration. But it was good. I was one of the people that got caught up in it, you-know-what-I-mean?”
'Young, British and Angry' - a BBC documentary on the English Defence League
Leading the EDL, Robinson said, was a “learning curve”.
“I’m sitting here now 32 years old, I’m a different man than I was when I was 26 years old. I’m a father of three now. Now I don’t want confrontation.” Robinson’s Twitter handle reflects his change of direction – trobinsonNewEra - but his posts are much the same as they always were - an aggregation of anti-Islam news stories. However, the tacky Union Jack shorts and matching socks he wore in early 2013, are now replaced with smart casual, or even suit and tie.
When Robinson was unmasked as the leader of the EDL in 2010 he “Full-on shit myself”.
“I thought my house is going to get burned down with my family in it. That I was going to get killed.” Robinson’s car was in fact set on fire and “almost took the whole house up”.
Robinson's car after it was vandalised
As Robinson’s public-profile increased, so did the police scrutiny of his personal affairs. His next arrest was for criminal damage, with officers apprehending him at Luton Airport – an arrest he claims was aimed at stopping him launching the Scottish Defence League. The charge related to a hotel door. Robinson denied damaging it. While under arrest, Robinson claims his parents' house was raided and computers and phones were taken. “That was the start of their politically motivated harassment, which is not their job, you-know-what-I-mean?”
Six months later, in September 2010, Robinson’s wife was arrested for tax evasion and money laundering. “Over-night every debit card was cancelled and my bank account was closed until two months ago (October, 2015),” Robinson said.
Initially, Robinson said, police focused on the takings from his sunbed shop, about £2,000 a week - £1500 paid in cash, the remainder through credit card transactions. Robinson said he used SolarTrack, a system that tracks every sunbed session, so he had “every receipt from the shop four-five bin liners worth in the garage”. After police analysed the receipts, Robinson claims, it turned out “by a coupla quid, I hadn’t declared enough… the fucken pricks.” The amount, he estimated was about “two grand”, because he had taken £100 out of the till on the odd occasion over five years. Detectives, Robinson claimed then moved on, focusing instead on his accounts as a whole. They concluded he owed £137,000 in tax – “they were bent as fuck in what they did”. The case went to court, and Robinson says he was found not guilty. He was later, however, ordered to repay £125,000. In a separate case, in November 2013, Robinson pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud, and in January of the following year was sentenced to 18 months jail. He was out in six. Robinson said police "basically turned me and my family's lives upside down" until they could make a charge stick.
TOMMY'S TOP TEN HITS BEFORE LEAVING THE EDL
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This is Robinson's take on the fraud conviction: He lent his brother £20,000, which he then used to imply he had more money than he did, secure a mortgage, buy a house, sell it, and turn a £30,000 profit. Robinson is adamant what he did wasn't a crime, "as everyone does it", and he did not personally profit, “and you should have to, for it to be fraud”. He said of the conviction: “It was a technicality they (police) could fuck me on.” Robinson was also keen to point out: “Muslims most of the time do a million pound fraud and get a suspended sentence.” A BBC report of his sentencing, however, reveals are more devious plan. The fraud involved £160,000. Judge Andrew Bright QC described Robinson as the “instigator, if not the architect” of not one, but a series of frauds, telling him: “I am satisfied you took part in a thoroughly dishonest course of conduct.” Robinson admitted two counts of conspiracy with others to obtain a mortgage by misrepresentation. Along with admitting the same charge, and transferring criminal property, one of Robinson’s co-accused, Steven Vowles, also plead guilty to possessing 3.48 grams of cocaine with intent to supply and being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
The difference in accounts is typical of Robinson, who plays the same two characters in all of his stories. The hero, and the victim.
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Desperate for cash and facing jail for mortgage fraud, Robinson, like a true charlatan, switched sides in October 2013, joining the Quilliam Foundation, in a paid deal he has since exploited to promote his book. The arrangement Robinson said was designed to make the cash-strapped, anti-extremism think-tank take “credit” for him leaving the EDL. He detailed the deal to the Huffington Post UK on Friday.
In his book Robinson wrote of the unlikely union: "I was using them, they were using me, but the bottom line from what I witnessed was that nothing truly productive was going to come out of it.”
While in jail for mortgage fraud and “at a crossroads in my life”, Robinson claims he was repeatedly approached by Scotland Yard who he said tried to “blackmail me” into playing a double agent to get them information on Britain First leader Paul Golding.
Robinson announces he is leaving the EDL and joining the Quilliam Foundation in October 2013
“They tried to sell it as I’d be doing my country a service because If I’m true to what I said when I left the EDL, about trying to tackle the far-right, then there’s no better way than doing this. Golding (at that time) was invading mosques. He was doing heaps of shit that was worrying them.”
Robinson said police specifically wanted to know about Golding’s links in Northern Ireland and who the “money men” behind the political party were.
“So I was like, so you want me to do to him, what you’ve done to me? This is fucken mad innit. You’ve got a fucken cheek to come in here.”
Robinson claims police tried to "blackmail" him into spying on Britain First deputy leader Paul Golding, seen above with his deputy Jayda Fransen at the party's annual conference
Robinson detailed on Saturday the repeated attempts police made to get him to change sides, which he claimed coincided with arrests for crimes he never committed.
“I wouldn’t say I was worried. I was gutted. I was gutted bruva,” he said, describing how he felt at the time.
“I was emotional. I was crying my eyes out. It’s the first time. I just through what the fuck am I supposed to do. I’ve gone to prison. I’ve given you cunts what you want. I’ve put my hands up. I’ve left the EDL. And hear you are still fucking, fucking, trying to ruin me.”
Following one of his most recent arrests, on July 14 this year, Robinson was transferred to HMP Peterborough, where he later accused authorities of endangering his life by putting him on a "wing full of Muslims". In the interview Robinson claimed to be the "biggest trophy for any Muslim in the system wanting to make a name for themselves". The series of recalls this year prompted a petition on change.org, calling for an independent review into his treatment by the supposed "best justice system in the world". Close to 4,000 have signed it.
Robinson, who often claims he has been "censored" by the state, speaking at the Oxford Union in November 2014
While Robinson’s stories are full of omissions and exaggerations, those concerning threats to his life are very real, and well documented. During his sentencing for fraud, his lawyer Charles Sherrard QC noted that after being jailed for trying to sneak into the US the previous year, Robinson spent his entire sentence in solitary and was moved to four different jails for his safety. And, Sherrard noted, “even in solitary he was regarded as being in danger”. (Robinson recalled feeling like “Hannibal Lecter” at that time).
Robinson in a picture from his book, which he said shows the results of beatings from Muslim gangs while "just going about daily life"
Having left the EDL, Robinson’s lawyer said he was then in “even more danger” having “alienated another large part of the community”. The court also heard Robinson was on a “wanted list” for Somali insurgent group al-Shabab, and that his family had previously been attacked, and he and his family had been moved to a safe house. In December 2011, Robinson stopped after a car flashed its lights at him, and claims a group of three men, of Asian appearance, attacked him. More recently, while out having a drink in Hitchin with his wife and friends, he was attacked, after a student posted a message on a community Facebook page saying, “if anyone wants to smash Tommy Robinson’s head in, he’s at this pub”. When Robinson left the bar, he got jumped by a group of men – “three or four of them, hitting me at once” - and was left with a blood clot on his head.
Robinson is attacked in Luton while filming a story with a television reporter
After checking the Hitchin Community Group Facebook page Robinson said the student who made the initial post, went back online writing that Robinson, the “known thug, racist, hooligan was out in our town last night causing trouble”. The student urged bar owners to ban Robinson. They obliged. Robinson later tracked down his attacker and the student who made the Facebook posts. Asked if he felt like he brings that kind of attention on himself, Robinson replies, with the same question he said he asked the student who got him beat-up: “At what point does it become justified that I should have my head smashed in.”
Online - where Robinson, is most actively offensive - he has received hundreds of threats: “A good 300 threats to kill my kids, rape my kids, murder my wife,” he estimates. The Huffington Post UK wrote about one such exchange. In his book Robinson revels in the level of danger his infamy has caused. He writes: "Every day mainstream media commentators debate the best way to de-radicalise the would-be murderers coming back from ISIS, while I'm sat knowing that these trained killers are going to come back from Syria with orders to kill me!” Robinson accepts no blame for the backlash he faces, saying he “should be free to say what I want about any ideology in Britain without facing that.” While out of the spotlight for most of 2014, Robinson is now very much back in it, with his new role with Pegida.
Robinson being confronted by Luton Muslims while filming a TV interview
Pegida first emerged as an anti-Islam movement in October 2014, but was said to have largely disappeared from public view after pictures emerged in January showing its co-founder, Lutz Bachmann, sporting a Hitler moustache. Robinson calls this incident “just bullshit” then proceeds to show off a picture of his Halloween night out with the “lads”. He is dressed at Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Another friend is dressed as a Gollywog, but he’s “actually black underneath that so it’s not offensive”. Robinson says its “satire”, just like it was when Prince Harry dressed up as a Nazi.
Robinson initially sent a friend to make contact with Pegida, to see if they were the “far-right Nazi’s” they were made out to be. The friend reported back that they were very “middleclass”. Robinson later helped them launch their Netherlands chapter, spoke at a rally in Dresden, and of late has been flying around Europe aligning similar groups to march on February 6, 2016, under a single banner: “Save our Country. Save our Culture. Save Our Future.” At least 12 European countries are said to be involved with the simultaneous action. The UK rally, scheduled for Birmingham, which Robinson called the "terrorist epicenter of Britain”, has been condemned by the Leaders of the three main political parties.
Robinson addresses crowds at a Pegida anniversary event in Dresden
Pegida was an easy fit for a now grown-up Robinson. Their rallies are in stark contrast to the hooligan parades he was used to, and its leaders “were great guys”, who flattered him. He recalls them saying “we watched you, we learned from you”.
On November 17, 2015 Robinson flew to the Czech Republic, where he met with representatives from Pegida, along with a similar local group called ‘Bloc Against Islam’, which grew out of the ‘Czech Defence League’. Robinson was due to speak at a rally in Prague, but was later replaced by the country’s President Milos Zeman, who is also an outspoken critic of Islam. Six thousand people attended.
According to The Telegraph Zeman said that the Czech Republic had no issue with foreigners, only the “culture” being brought by the refugees which was not “compatible with ours”. The newspaper quoted him as saying: “Ours is not a culture of murder or religious hatred. The immigrants are young men. Why are these men not fighting for the freedom of their country against Islamic State? Why do they come to Europe? Why don’t they stay to make their own countries better.”
For Robinson the blame lays with Angela Merkel (named Time Person of the Year 2015 on Wednesday) for letting in hundreds of thousands of “economic migrants” into Germany, effectively giving them access to the entire European Union. Robinson said: “I don’t blame them (refugees) for wanting to come. I blame Angela Merkel for telling them to come. I blame Angela Merkel for opening the gates, and the invasion of every other country in Europe, and the chaos we’re seeing across every border now is her fault. And what’s she doing it for? A bit of white guilt. She’s an absolute… she will be remembered as the woman that set Europe on the path of destruction. You see what’s happening now, these are just the gushes of the whirlwind that’s coming.”
Problems in the Middle East, Robinson notes, are the fault of David Cameron and the US, “because they keep interfering in other countries, taking the fucken piss”. Islamic State, however, is Mohammed’s fault - “because of what he taught”.
Robinson blames German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the migrant crisis
The immediate solution, Robinson announced last week when detailing Pegida UK’s stance: Stop all Muslim immigration to the UK, and ban the building of any new mosques, “until we stop seeing the hatred coming from them”. Robinson thinks NATO should create a “safety buffer zone” near Turkey to protect Britain from the “invasion of people with severe backward views… homophobic, anti Semitic… it’s going to cause huge problems.” He goes on to say these migrants are “harassing women, they’re raping women, they’re culturally and ideologically, not going to assimilate.” On Tuesday US Presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested America should adopt a similar policy, in a worrying move, that showed Islamophobia has gone mainstream.
What Robinson’s future holds, “changes all the time”, but like a true martyr he can’t not play his part: “I don’t want to do it. I wish I didn’t have to.”
So too does his wife who he married in 2011, after about 10 years together. She hates Tommy Robinson. He shows me a text she sent him on the morning we speak, reading it aloud, while using his finger as a pointer. He explains: “You’ll see the fucken dilemma I have mate.”
The message concerns a picture Robinson posted of his daughter’s polished fingernails on Twitter. Robinson’s wife calls him “fucken thick” and demands he takes any pictures of their children off his account. She says Robinson should be “protecting them, not putting them out there”.
“If I didn’t have a wife and kids mate it would be a whole different… I’m torn now between, now, completely torn, because I wanna fucken, I feel there’s a huge, huge problem that’s going to face us as a national security threat. It’s going to affect our children’s future. That’s how I genuinely feel,” Robinson explained, saying he may well have even fought against the Islamic State if “I wasn’t in the situation I am currently in”.
Robinson refuses to accept his actions in opposing Islam are having a far greater impact on his family. Asked if he thinks he is protecting his children, he says: “I think I am.”
He continued: “I think every one of us has a responsibility to our kids and when I look at what previous generations went through in order to hand a safe and prosperous country down to us. We’re doing fuck all. We are a fucking embarrassment of a generation. When you look at 14-year-old kids pretending they are 16 to go and die in fields against Nazis. All of that was to protect against what’s here. Right now Europe is being invaded. That’s reality. And we ain't doing nothing. We’re hiding.”
Leaving the bar Robinson scoops up his phone – which displays 29 notifications, received in just over an hour - and his key ring, which features a portrait of his three children. Climbing into his people mover Robinson returns to Luton, to a building site he’s working on. Back to reality, back to being Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.