A former UKIP MEP, who supports Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race, has tweeted that a black MP’s ‘ranting’ shows why ‘prejudice against black people exists’.
The tweet by Roger Helmer was prefaced by the sentiment that “racial prejudice is wrong” and was made in response to a Twitter spat between MP David Lammy and conservative writer Tim Montgomerie.
Montgomerie had mocked Lammy’s tweets about Boris Johnson’s links to alt-right figure Steve Bannon.
The increasingly heated row, in which Montgomerie accused Lammy of chasing social media attention for his concern over the hard right, culminated in Lammy saying he would “pour whatever I can get my hands on” over a white supremacist, and was covered in the Independent.
Roger Helmer, who now supports the Brexit Party, retweeted the article added the comment: “Racial prejudice is wrong, and I condemn it. But David Lammy’s ranting illustrates why prejudice against black people persists.”
So Conservative party members tend to favour their own historic culture against foreign cultures. That's what we call 'an Islamophobia problem'? https://t.co/jLOOmTUzr1— Roger Helmer (@RogerHelmerMEP) June 24, 2019
Despite its caveat, the racist tweet furthered the fallacies that the words of one person can produce reasonable prejudice towards a whole group, and that the tone of anti-racist discourse should always be meek.
Helmer has recast himself as a gardening expert but still spends time tweeting hard-right views to his 21,000 followers.
He recently retweeted a statement from an account called ‘Brexit Headmaster’ bemoaning immigration, saying: “Once seen, it cannot be unseen … This is not ‘normal’ immigration”.
In another tweet, he scoffed at news that 40% of Conservative Party members want a limit on Muslims entering the UK and that 45% believe the unproven notion of ‘no-go’ areas for non-Muslims.
“So Conservative party members tend to favour their own historic culture against foreign cultures,” he said. “That’s what we call ‘an Islamophobia problem’?”
The former East Midlands MEP of 18 years stepped down in 2017, ostensibly to retire but amid allegations that he had misused £100,000 of EU funds to hire a UKIP assistant.
Helmer also has a long and storied history of controversy over everything from climate science denial, gay “conversion” therapies and that women in “date rape” cases share responsibility for “establishing reasonable expectations” in the rapist’s mind.
In 2017, he spent £9,000 of public money on billboards decrying green policies as “probably unnecessary”, and recently called climate change “imaginary” in a tweet.