Ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon backs UK's Boris Johnson, Tommy Robinson in new interview

Ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon backs UK's Boris Johnson, Tommy Robinson in new interview
US alt-right figure Steve Bannon has said Boris Johnson should not 'bow' to 'political correctness' following his controversial remarks on Muslim women.
3 min read
12 August, 2018
Steve Bannon said Boris Johnson need not apologise for his comments [Getty]

US far-right strategist Steve Bannon voiced his support for former UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday, amid an ongoing row over Johnson's comments about Muslim women.

Johnson is facing an investigation by the UK's ruling Conservative Party after he compared Muslim women who wear the full face veil, or burqa, to "letterboxes" and "bankrobbers".

Speaking to the Sunday Times,the former aide to President Donald Trump said Johnson had "nothing to apologise for" and should not "bow at the altar of political correctness".

"Excuse me, didn't he actually support the wearing of the veil?" Bannon asked, referring to Johnson's opposition to banning the religious garment.

"His entire argument revolves around not wanting to ban the burqa, but arguing that he agrees that it's an oppressive garment and that there is no scriptural basis for it in the Quran, which is true. I think the substance got lost because of his throwaway line."

Johnson has been criticised by Muslim groups and politicians, including Prime Minister Theresa May, who urged the Tory MP to apologise. Johnson's representatives have said he won't apologise.

Despite his reputation as a political buffoon, Johnson is one of the UK's best-known politicians and is often cited as a potential candidate for prime minister.

He quit May's Conservative government last month in a dispute over the country's departure from the European Union, accusing the prime minister of killing "the Brexit dream".

Speculation has swirled that Bannon, a controversial figure accused of being a white supremacist, is secretly advising Johnson in his bid for the top UK post.

"Boris just needs to be Boris - true to his nature and his calling - and I think he has potential to be a great prime minister, not a good one," Bannon added, emphasising that the former London mayor need not emulate Trump.

The far-right ideologue also praised another controversial UK figure - Tommy Robinson, founder of the now-defunct English Defence League.

Robinson, 35, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is a self-styled commentator who runs a YouTube channel that has accumulated more than 6 million views, including videos purporting to show him fighting migrants in Italy and being attacked by masked men outside a McDonald's restaurant in London.

Bannon described Tommy Robinson [c]
as a 'movement' [AFP]

He was recently freed from prison after an appeals court threw out his conviction for contempt of court and ordered a retrial. The case stems from allegations that Robinson used social media to broadcast details of a trial that was subject to blanket reporting restrictions.

"Tommy is not just a guy but a movement," Bannon said. "He represents the working class and channels a lot of the frustration of everyday, blue-collar Britons... He is a force of nature - like Kanye (West) - not built to be managed."

Bannon's comments come amid what he says are his plans to establish a Europe-wide movement uniting populist and nationalist voters in the European elections next year. He has said he plans to spend 70 percent of his time in Europe following the November midterm election in the United States.

In an interview published on Saturday, however, the leader Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party bluntly rebuffed Bannon's proposal.

"We're not in America," Alexander Gauland, co-leader of the AfD party, told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain.

"The interests of the anti-establishment parties in Europe are quite divergent," he added.