Even a Mail on Sunday journalist can’t stomach senior Conservatives meeting a leading fascist

Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg
Stefan Schmid

Senior Conservatives have come under heavy criticism after a series of discussions with a fascist were revealed. Top Brexiteers Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove have all had direct contact with far-right American strategist Steve Bannon.

The meetings were even too much for Mail on Sunday journalist Dan Hodges to stomach. Meanwhile, Labour MP David Lammy has led the charge against the trio, labelling them a “national disgrace”.

The US-born strategist is a former advisor to US President Donald Trump. Bannon recently addressed a meeting of the National Front in France, where he told the audience to wear accusations of racism as a “badge of honour”.

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Bannon and the UK

According to Reuters, Bannon confirmed he had been in touch with the three senior Conservative MPs. The former Breitbart editor said he had direct conversations with Johnson and Rees-Mogg, as well as Gove, who is a cabinet minister in Theresa May’s government.

The far-right strategist said he texted Johnson “a lot” and spoke on the phone when in London earlier this month. He described Johnson as “one of the most important” political figures on the world stage.

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The news came as Bannon announced plans to create a far-right anti-EU ‘supergroup’ of MEPs in the EU parliament.

Backlash

There was a mix of shock and anger on social media after the story broke. Labour MP Lammy did not hold back:

Neither did columnist and activist Owen Jones:

The backlash to the news was not only from the left though. Hodges tweeted in support of Jones’ comments:

And Hodges was not alone in his criticism either. Former director of communications under George Osbourne, James Chapman, also condemned the meetings:

Bannon in the EU

Since falling out of favour at the White House, Bannon has been looking increasingly to Europe. Inspired by Brexit, he sees the current climate as an opportunity to gain a foothold in the continent.

A spokesperson for Gove told Reuters that he had met Bannon once briefly and that two meetings had been planned but never took place. It reported that the government minister did not discuss anti-EU politics with Bannon. But despite these denials, the accessibility of UK ministers to a far-right figure such as Bannon is worrying.

For the Conservative Party though, this is just another milestone of its slide into the realm of the far right. And we must be on hand to challenge that decline at every step.

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Featured image via Policy Exchange, Estonian Presidency and LadyGeekTV  – Wikimedia

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