British far-right anti-immigration party lures Poles in social media campaign

British far-right anti-immigration party lures Poles in social media campaign
Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen. Image: Britain First

11 July 2017

Far-right British political party Britain First may not have any elected officials, but it has more likes on Facebook likes than any other British political party — 1.9 million of them. Now the hardline anti-immigration party is using social media to attract some seemingly unlikely recruits, namely the UK's Polish community.

Britain First has released a number of online videos aimed at Polish immigrants in Britain, who form the country's largest immigrant population. Their strategy in recent weeks has included enlisting Polish far-right figures to endorse the party. One such figure is firebrand former Catholic priest Jacek Międlar, who is known for his fervent nationalistic, anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic stance and was indicted last month for inciting hatred against Jews by a Polish court. He has attempted to travel to the UK twice this year to attend Britain First rallies but was detained by UK authorities on both occasions.

Under Britain First's extreme stance on immigration, all EU immigrants already in the UK should be allowed to stay, provided that they aren't criminals or Muslims, according to a statement by Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen to BBC Trending.

So, why the push to appeal to the Polish community now?

BBC News spoke to Rafał Pankowski of the Polish anti-hate charity Never Again, who links Britain First's campaign to a move towards the far-right in Poland itself.

“We have been witnessing a rise in far-right activity in Poland itself as well,” he told the BBC. “And unfortunately the Polish people in the UK have been victims of discrimination and hate crime especially since the Brexit referendum. And some of them have been turning to Polish far-right nationalist groups for a sense of belonging.”

At present, approximately 23,000 of Britain First's Facebook likes come from Polish accounts — could this be set to grow?

Source: BBC News