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Sat 25 May 2019
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Otto English on how it’s not only Claire Fox who is taking the wheels off the Brexit Party bus.

Claire Fox, revolutionary communist-turned-director of the Academy of Ideas-turned MEP candidate is starting to prove a major headache for the Brexit Party.

Since being placed at the top of their list of North West EU parliamentary candidates, there has been increased scrutiny of her past involvement in the Revolutionary Community Party (RCP) and, in particular, her active defence of IRA terror atrocities over a period of two decades.

Nowhere has this been more intense than in the town of Warrington.

It was there in 1993 that an attack by terrorists killed toddler Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry, 12, who passed away in his father Colin’s arms five days later. Despite almost universal condemnation of the murders at the time, Fox’s RCP defended the IRA attack. In a statement insensitively put out the day after Tim’s funeral, the RCP argued that nationalists had a right “to take whatever measures necessary in their struggle for freedom”.

By peculiar coincidence, Warrington sits firmly in the North West constituency which Claire Fox seeks to serve and, since her past views have come to light, residents of the town have waited – in vain – for comment or clarification from her.

For almost a week, Fox has shrugged. In interviews with sympathetic journalists including UKIP’s deputy leader, Peter Whittle, she dismissed legitimate concerns raised by David Aaronovitch, Byline Times, blogger John Rogan and others as “hostile hit jobs” and didn’t respond to requests for comment.

It now transpires that there is another former RCP candidate standing for the Brexit Party – this time in London.

It was only when Colin Parry OBE, father of 12-year-old Tim, reluctantly entered the fray and invited the people of Warrington and the North West to “reflect on her (Claire Fox’s) suitability” to represent them, that she responded.

Fox – quite possibly under pressure from the party hierarchy – eventually called Colin Parry.

Clearly, the intent was good but, instead of doing the decent thing, as the conversation went on, Fox doubled down. According to a tweet put out by Mr Parry, the Brexit Party candidate “repeatedly refused to disavow her comments supporting the IRA bombing which took Tim’s and Johnathan’s young lives proving she hasn’t changed her original views”.


Warrington at War

Warrington is a close-knit community that was devastated by the events of 1993 and the attack has resonated down the years.

The people there have taken immense pride from the way that the Parry family have sought, in the decades since the explosions, to build a peace foundation in memory of their son and the other victims and to make the town a centre for reconciliation. Speaking to locals on both sides of the Brexit debate over the last few days, I have been stuck by their solidarity with the Parry family and their incredible sense of community and shared history.

On Wednesday night one of her fellow Brexit Party candidates, Sally Bate, quit the party in disgust and resigned as the prospective MEP.

Claire Fox clearly did not understand that and nor has she sought to. Her arrogance, lack of remorse and unwillingness to take the sincere concerns of locals seriously was already testing patience, but her call to Colin Parry was the final straw.

On Wednesday night, one of her fellow Brexit Party candidates, Sally Bate, quit the party in disgust and resigned as the prospective MEP. Sally is the founder and leader of ‘Warrington for Brexit’ and a well-known local activist. Friends and political allies tell me that she felt she could no longer represent the party when Claire Fox was standing on the same platform.

Statement from Sally Bate

As if all of this was not bad enough, it now transpires that there is another former RCP candidate standing for the Brexit Party – this time in London. Spiked contributor Alka Sehgal Cuthbert is seeking to represent the party in a city that saw multiple bomb attacks and many dozens killed and injured over three decades of hostilities. All of which were defended by the RCP.

In an even more bizarre twist, Sehgal Cuthbert is standing on a party list that includes Aileen Quinton whose mother was murdered, along with 11 others, by the IRA in the Enniskillen attack in 1987.

Does Aileen realise that her fellow candidate is the product of a party that actively excused such atrocities? Does James Glancy, Brexit Party prospective MEP and former SBS officer know that his fellow candidates celebrated the deaths of his comrades in the pursuit of Irish freedom? Does Ann Widdecombe appreciate that she is rubbing shoulders with people who feted the Brighton bombing of the Grand Hotel that nearly killed Margaret Thatcher?

The Brexit Party was set up in a hurry and its candidates have clearly been selected with even greater haste. Farage and his team have hailed that diversity as a success story, but you have to wonder how long this ship of Brexiters will last and – more importantly perhaps – how long decent and ordinary Brexit Party supporters will go along with it all.

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