David Lammy Says His Speech Comparing The ERG To Nazis 'Wasn't Strong Enough'

He suggested the group was giving cover 'for thugs on the ground'.
Labour MP David Lammy
Labour MP David Lammy

David Lammy has sparked a row after claiming that comparing the pro-Brexit European Research Group to the Nazis is not “strong enough”.

In a highly-charged interview, the Labour MP suggested that the group of ardent Tory Brexiteers – which is led by Jacob Rees-Mogg – was offering cover for “thugs on the ground”.

His comments led to outrage online, with Tory MP Conor Burns describing them as “batshit”.

Faced with footage of himself at a rally comparing the ERG to the Nazis and racists in South Africa during Apartheid – which BBC’s Andrew Marr said was “unacceptable” – Lammy replied: “I would say that wasn’t strong enough.”

Rees-Mogg is “someone who is happy to put onto his webpages the horrible, racist AfD party that is Islamophobic and on the far-right of the German system”, he said.

Meanwhile, Lammy told Marr that the ERG are “happy to use the phrase ‘Grand Wizard’ – the KKK is what it evokes to me when I think of that phrase and the deep south”.

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

“I’m not backing off on this,” the Tottenham MP continued, adding that the BBC should not allow this “extreme far-right fascism” to flourish.

ERG leader Jacob Rees-Mogg
ERG leader Jacob Rees-Mogg
Reuters TV / Reuters

When challenged by Marr that the ERG is made up of elected Tory MPs, Lammy said: “I don’t care how elected they were, so was the far-right in Germany. They are often elected, often giving cover for the thugs on the ground.

“And I’m afraid when people are experiencing rising hate and extremism in this country, we must not concede ground – we must fight it and call it out for what it is.”

Lammy added: “British soldiers in this country died fighting this thuggery and extremism and here we are in 2019 with people bringing it into the mainstream for their own political advantage.”

His comments have sparked anger among Conservatives, with Tory MP Conor Burns tweeting:

“I used to have regard for David Lammy. But this is batshit. Comparing ERG to Hitler is quite something. Fully lost it.”

Rees-Mogg faced criticism earlier this month after sharing a video of the co-leader of Germany’s AfD party – which is widely considered to be both anti-immigration and anti-Islam – in which she accused Germany of “negligence and failure” for not being able to keep Britain in the EU.

But the North East Somerset MP later said he was not endorsing the AfD by tweeting the clip, but simply “pointing out that there’s something interesting that is worth watching”.

Rees-Mogg and the Conservative Party have been contacted for a response.


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