Tower Hamlets politicians welcome EDL leaders’ departures

Tommy Robinson addresses the crowd at September's EDL march

Tommy Robinson addresses the crowd at September's EDL march - Credit: Archant

The departure of two of far right group the English Defence League’s leaders has been welcomed by Tower Hamlets politicians.

EDL founders Tommy Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – and Kevin Carroll, left the group last week, citing “the dangers of far right extremism”.

Both Labour and Independent politicians in Tower Hamlets welcomed the announcement, but warned of the need to totally disband the organisation which staged a demonstration in east London in September.

Independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “I welcome the fact that the EDL have acknowledged the inevitable and are splitting up.

“What is needed now is a call from both individuals for the EDL to be completely disbanded.”

Labour mayoral candidate John Biggs warned against concluding that the announcement signalled the end of organisations similar to the EDL.

“This signal is welcome but we need to see something more substantial before concluding that real change has happened,” he said.

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“The history of far right groups is that they often splinter and collapse but that another then emerges, so we should assume a very real threat remains.”

Mr Robinson was arrested during September’s demonstration in east London, and has since been charged with failing to comply with the law and inciting illegal public assembly. He is due to appear at Thames Magistrates’ Court on October 22.

Announcing his decision to leave the EDL last week, he said: “I have been considering this move for a long time because I recognise that, though street demonstrations have brought us to this point, they are no longer productive.

“I acknowledge the dangers of far-right extremism and the ongoing need to counter Islamist ideology not with violence but with better, democratic ideas.”