East of England UKIP MEP defends joining controversial group set up by Marine Le Penn
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East of England MEP Stuart Agnew has been accused of getting "into bed with some very dodgy people" as he joined a new group in the European Parliament.
Mr Agnew, a UKIP MEP since 2009, confirmed he joined Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) - a group set up by Marine Le Penn, the French National Front leader and Geert Wilders, head of the controversial Dutch anti-Islam Freedom Party in 2015.
But Mr Agnew pushed back against any accusations of “far-right Nazism” as he said: “I have Jewish ancestry.”
East of England Labour MEP Alex Mayer said: “I am sickened by this. UKIP have sunk into the darkest and most dangerous depths now. Stuart Agnew has got into bed with some very dodgy people. I don’t believe for a moment that the people of the East of England share these racist and sexist views. Mr Agnew should resign.”
But Mr Agnew defended his decision and said he had watched the ENF’s conduct for the last four years and had not been “unduly concerned”.
He said he joined the ENF because he had “become increasingly concerned at the appalling effect on two sectors of our British female population stemming from the cultural beliefs of radical Islam”.
He said: “On the one hand girls are being born into families where their education is neglected and they are required to wear Burkhas. They may also find themselves the victim of a forced marriage to a stranger. On the other hand white girls from dysfunctional families are falling prey to Asian grooming gangs, leading to serial rapes and enforced prostitution.”
He added: “Throughout my life I have witnessed a steady improvement in female opportunities, but I am now seeing it going the wrong way. I could quite easily have kept my head down, drawn my salary and in a few weeks’ time enjoyed my pension.
“I regard this as cowardly and am happy to nail my colours to the mast on this issue, which due to demographics, is going to get worse. I acknowledge that this is less of a problem in the East of England than elsewhere. It is easy to find reasons to hang back. I would rather experience hostility now, than experience guilt and shame in my old age for failing to lead when I had the opportunity”.