Jewish businessman and independent MEP Lance Forman has spoken of his friends and customers’ anger over his backing for Brexit.
The former Brexit Party politician, who runs a fish smokery in East London, told a Limmud audience said that when he first started campaigning for Leave, “I was getting emails saying, I’ll never buy your smoked salmon again. If you do commit, you offend half your customers.”
He said that 75 per cent of his friends backed Remain, and were incandescent following the 2016 referendum.
“Most of them were really furious with me that the Brexit vote had been won, and they were saying, this is all your fault,” he said.
“I said to them, anyone can get involved. If you felt that strongly, you shouldn’t have just been sitting on your sofa throwing cushions at the TV,” he added.
Mr Forman quit the Brexit Party ahead of the general election and urged people to vote Tory out of concern that a split vote could jeopardise Britain leaving the EU and allow Jeremy Cobyn into Number 10.
Despite his well-publicised row with Nigel Farage over the party’s election strategy ahead of his decision to quit, Mr Forman has continued to defend the Brexit Party leader.
The son of a Holocaust survivor told the Limmud audience that allegations of antisemitism against Mr Farage were wrong because he knew what is in his “heart”, adding: “I don’t believe there is an ounce of antisemitism there”.
Mr Forman said: “He’s the sort of guy you can meet and chat to in the pub. As you see him on the TV screen that’s how he is face to face, he’s just very easy to get on with. I don’t believe he’s an antisemite.
“Yes he was on LBC radio, he was talking about the ‘Jewish lobby’ - that’s the one that’s always thrown at me.
“He was basically replying to a query about the Indian lobby in America, and he was just saying you need to try and do what the Jewish lobby has done because they have been very successful at it.
“It’s really important to have that sort of influence and he was recognising that. You have to know what’s in someone’s heart when they’re saying that, I don’t believe there is an ounce of antisemitism there.”
However, Mr Forman revealed that he clashed with Mr Farage over whether the party should join a far-right grouping in the European Parliament, threatening to quit if any formal pact was made with Marine Le Pen’s Font National or the Afd in Germany.
He said: “One of the groups Farage was looking at included Le Pen and possibly the Afd. And I said to Nigel, I would have to resign from the Brexit Party if we form a group with these people.
“In the end, we didn’t, whether because of my personal influence I don’t know.”