Jacob Rees-Mogg faces fury over 'disgraceful' promotion of 'antisemitic' German party

Prominent Brexiteer retweeted a speech by the leader of far-right AfD


Jacob Rees-Mogg has sparked fury after promoting on social media a far-right German party accused of being “racist and antisemitic” - and then defending his decision to share the message.

The Conservative Brexiteer retweeted a speech by Alice Weidel, the leader of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), saying: "The AfD leader asks: 'Is it any wonder the British see bad faith behind every manoeuvre from Brussels?'"

Established five years ago as an anti-EU party, the AfD has grown in popularity with its populist anti-immigration message.

The AfD, whose candidates have declared that Islam is worse than the plague and that refugee boats should be sunk, marched alongside neo-Nazis last year, leading to some of its members being put under formal state surveillance.

Party vice-chairman Alexander Gauland has said that “Hitler and the Nazis were but a birdsh*t in over a thousand years of Germany’s prolific history”, while in 2017 he remarked Germans “have the right to be proud of the contributions German soldiers made in both world wars.”

But when questioned about his tweet on radio station LBC on Monday, Mr Rees-Mogg claimed was "important people know" about AfD's views.

He said: "No no no no, I'm not supporting the AfD.

"I don't think retweeting is an endorsement of things that other people stand for. It's just pointing out that there's something interesting that is worth watching."

A Jewish Labour Movement spokesperson told the JC that they considered Mr Rees-Mogg’s decision to promote the German Party as “utterly disgraceful”.

They added: “There can be no compromises with the far-right.

“AfD represent a growing populist trend in Europe and must be stopped.

“This is an utterly disgraceful attempt by Rees-Mogg to import their views which Britain can ill afford to allow.”

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson added: "I can only imagine a Tory MP retweeting a far-right German nationalist leader is some kind of April Fool prank borne from the playing fields of Eton."

Anna Soubry MP, who quit the Conservative party to help launch The Independent Group, said: “The actions of Conservative politicians like Rees-Mogg only achieve further division and drive the Tory party to the right wing extremes of British politics.”

Last October in a joint declaration, the mainstream of the German Jewish community said the AfD is “racist and antisemitic,” “no party for Jews,” and a “danger to Jewish life in Germany.”

The AfD “is a party in which Jew-hatred as well as Holocaust denial find a home,” the declaration added.

The AfD was kicked out of the Conservatives’ own European Parliament group, the ECR, in 2016 after former leader Frauke Petry said German police should shoot refugees.

The endorsement by the Tory MP comes at a time of increasing scrutiny of Conservative politicians over their links to extremists and tolerance of Islamophobia in the party.

Leading Brexiteers were last week reported by the BBC to have taken to calling themselves the “Grand Wizards” – a reference to the leaders of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan. 

During a speech in Westminster last week, Tory MP Suella Braverman claimed the UK was under threat from “cultural Marxism”, a far-right conspiracy theory that refers to a supposed plot to undermine western culture.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive