Rees-Mogg accuses BBC of 'lefty obsession' over far-right tweet

ERG chair hits back after BBC presenter questions him about tweeting video of AfD speech

Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused the BBC of having a “lefty obsession” during heated questioning over his tweet of a video of a speech by a senior member of Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland.

The chair of the Eurosceptic European Research Group was asked by Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday whether he should clarify that he does not support all beliefs of the anti-Islam party.

Rees-Mogg refused to say with which principles of the AfD he disagreed, taking aim instead at the BBC for comments made by the presenter James Naughtie – for which Naughtie later apologised – that likened the group’s members to those of France’s National Rally (RN), previously known as Front National.

“I think this is typical BBC obsession, dare I say it the Today programme obsession,” said Rees-Mogg. “Mr Naughtie quite shamefully said the other week that the ERG is like the National Front in France.”

In response, Husain said Naughtie was not expressing his own views. Rees-Mogg said she was incorrect, before adding: “When Mr Naughtie quotes someone and it’s not his view, that’s fine, but when I quote somebody and it’s not my view, it’s a great shock. I mean that seems to me typical of the Today programme’s lefty approach and obsession with this issue.”

The clip of a speech by Alice Weidel, the leader of the AfD’s 91 deputies in the Bundestag, the German parliament, tweeted by Rees-Mogg, came from a YouTube channel that specialises in material from far-right European politicians. It includes clips of the RN politician Marion Maréchal and videos criticising the BBC for promoting racial diversity.

Some Labour MPs sharply criticised Rees-Mogg for sharing the AfD video, with David Lammy accusing him of “promoting Germany’s overtly racist party”.

Last year, an AfD poster for elections in Bavaria showed light-skinned teenagers running down a corridor with the slogan: “Islam-free schools.”

Last month, on the Today programme, Naughtie said: “The ERG, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s group, in France would be in the National Front, because that’s what they believe, and in Germany they’d be in the AfD.”

The presenter said later: “I was wrong to say in a live discussion this morning that members of the ERG would be happy in a far-right party. That was not my intention, because I don’t believe it.”


Haroon Siddique

The GuardianTramp

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