In the U.K. today, Labour MP Jo Cox was killed during a shooting and stabbing in Birstall, West Yorkshire. It has been reported that the attacker yelled “Britain First” before attacking the 41-year-old Cox. This could be a reference to the far-right political party Britain First, which supports the U.K. leaving the European Union and has fought against the growing Muslim population in the country.
Britain First did issue a statement saying that it is not involved in the attack on Cox and “would never encourage behavior of this sort.”
Here’s a look at the history of the party and its policies.
1. Britain First Insists Its Policies Are Not Racist
Britain First was founded in 2011 by former British National Party member Jim Dowson and its current chairman is Paul Golding. Although one of its policies includes curbing the growing Muslim population in the U.K., the party insists on its website that “race does not feature in our policies or outlook in any way.” They consider their party a “loyalist movement.”
“Britain First is opposed to all mass immigration, regardless of where it comes from – the colour of your skin doesn’t come into it – Britain is full up,” the group says. “Britain is heavily overcrowded – we cannot take in any more immigrants, especially when we have so many unemployed in our own country.”
However, The Guardian reported in 2015 that Dowson left the party when he found it was full of “racists and extremists.”
2. Golding Got Little Support in London Mayoral Election & Turned His Back on Sadiq Khan
Golding ran for London Mayor earlier this year and only earned just over 31,000 first preference votes, while Sadiq Khan won with over 1.14 million. Khan became the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city. During Khan’s victory speech, Golding turned his back to Khan and the cameras, reports The Independent.
In a statement after Khan’s election, Golding called Muslim elected officials “occupiers” who “will start to oppose their strategy of entryism and take-over of our political system.”
“Britain First specialises in militant direct action and has tracked down and confronted numerous hate preachers and terrorists,” Golding said. They vowed to “focus on all aspects of their day-to-day lives and official functions, including where they live, work, pray and so on.”
3. They Stage ‘Invasions’ of Mosques in Britain
The party has staged what they call “invasions” of mosques throughout the U.K. According to an IBTimes report on their “invasion” of a mosque in London in May 2014, eyewitnesses said they saw four people in “green activist jackets” going into the mosque and giving out bibles. Britain First calls these groups “Christian Patrols.”
In May, the group posted a video on YouTube showing their “invasion” of the biggest Halal slaughterhouse in London. They also organize “day of action” events, including the one seen above in Dewsbury. Supporters carried a giant sign that reads, “Britain First No More Mosques.” The group often posts videos of their activities and has gained incredible support on Facebook with 1.4 million likes.
4. Britain First Supports Leaving the European Union
On June 23, U.K. voters head to the polls to decide if the country should leave the European Union. Britain First has supported leaving the EU. The polls on the issue have been close, although a recent YouGov poll has support for leaving at 46 percent.
Last month, Britain First held an anti-EU rally in Leicester, but it didn’t go so well, reports The Independent. The group “Midlands Anti-Fascist Network” showed up to push Britain Frist out of the city. While they told the BRitain First group that “racists are not welcome here,” Britain First supporters called them “left wing trash.”
Britain First didn’t see this as a success for their opponents though.
5. Britain First Applaud Donald Trump’s Ban on Muslims Entering the U.S.
After Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., there was a petition debated in Parliament to consider banning Trump from entering the U.K. Britain First supported Trump, telling people to vote for him on Facebook, reports The Huffington Post. On their website, they agreed with Trump’s comments on London in the above video. “Britain First say, well said Mr Trump!” the group wrote.
On Facebook, the group has also slammed President Barack Obama. Earlier this month, the group posted a meme of Obama that called him the “Worst President in History” with the caption “We agree.”
Trump and Britain First also share admiration for Vladimir Putin.