The far-right British National Party has won two seats in the European Parliament, in a major breakthrough for a party reviled by mainstream politicians for its anti-immigration stance.
AFP - The far-right British National Party on Monday won its first seats in the European Parliament, in a major breakthrough for a party reviled by mainstream politicians for its anti-immigration stance.
Party chairman Nick Griffin was elected an MEP in the northwest of England region with eight percent of the vote, hours after Andrew Brons won the BNP's first ever European seat in the nearby Yorkshire and the Humber region.
Both seats were at the expense of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party, which suffered a devastating result across the country.
Griffin had earlier hailed Brons' win -- with almost 10 percent of the vote -- as "a huge breakthrough" for his party, and used the victory to reiterate his party's anti-immigration and anti-Islam stance.
He denied his party was racist, but said: "We do say this country is full up. The key thing is to shut the door."
Griffin told Sky News television: "This is a Christian country and Islam is not welcome, because Islam and Christianity, Islam and democracy, Islam and women's rights do not mix.
"That's a simple fact that the elites of Europe are going to have to get their heads round and deal with over the next few years."
The result is a vindication of efforts by Griffin, who was educated at the prestigious Cambridge University, to recast the party since taking over in 1999, emphasising its grassroots activism over extreme-right ideology.
Amid concerns about soaring unemployment and a deep recession and in particular the demise of British manufacturing, the BNP has pledged British jobs for British workers.
It is opposed to European integration and wants to pull Britain out of the European Union and halt all immigration to the country.
In recent weeks it has also capitalised on public anger over the row over lawmakers' expenses, which has severely damaged the reputation of parliament and the mainstream Labour and Conservative parties.
Health minister Andrew Burnham described the BNP's first MEP victory as a "sad moment", and following Griffin's success in the northwest, local Labour MP Tony Lloyd said he was ashamed at how some people had voted.
"I am genuinely not just disappointed, I think it is a matter of shame, this country has a deserved reputation for a tolerant society," said Lloyd, the Labour MP for Manchester Central.
"Their (the BNP) vision for Britain is a nightmare for Britain. I think many people will wake up with some sense of shame."
Government ministers and the Conservative party had sought to remind voters of the BNP's policies, which include calls for the immediate halt to all immigration to Britain and the "voluntary resettlement" of all immigrants.
Date created : 2009-06-08