British parliamentarians have written to US secretary of state Mike Pompeo urging him to confirm that 'Tommy Robinson' – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – will not be allowed into the US on a speaking and fundraising tour next week.
Robinson, a far-right activist and co-founder of the nationalist English Defence League, is currently banned from entering the US after being convicted in 2012 of entering the country on a false passport.
Fifty-five cross-party MPs, including Select Committee chairs, prominent Conservatives and Shadow Cabinet members, have written to Pompeo expressing 'grave concern' at the proposed visit, which would see him undertaking speaking and media engagements in Washington DC next week.
In their letter, the MPs warn that Lennon would take the opportunity to 'speak to prominent audiences in Washington DC, and to secure media appearances to promote his violent and extremist agenda'. They highlight the fear that funds he could raise would be used 'to organise further disruptive demonstrations in communities across the UK'.
Seven Republican Congressmen as well as US anti-Muslim groups, the Middle East Forum (MEF) – which has been helping to fund his legal defence, during a contempt of court jailing and appeal – and the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, have invited the former leader of the English Defence League to speak at a closed event.
Calling on the US government to maintain its ban, Joe Mulhall, senior researcher at HOPE not hate, said: 'Stephen Lennon is a violent thug who broke American law by entering the US on a fake passport in 2012. It would make a mockery of the US laws for the Administration to allow him into the country.
'His fundraising visit is not in the UK public interest. Lennon would receive a huge boost if he's allowed into the US, not least in the form of around £1million in funding, which he would then use to organise demos around the UK, sowing further division and violence.'
Robinson has convictions for fraud, assault and drug offences. However, he is a hero to the far right because of his incendiary language about Islam and immigration. After he was jailed for contempt of court in May, an online petition for his release attracted half a million signatures.
The MPs' intervention came after PayPal refused to allow Robinson to use its services to raise funds. It said in a statement that it did not comment on individual accounts, but added: 'We do not allow PayPal services to be used to promote hate, violence, or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory.
'We do not take decisions like these lightly, and we work hard to be rigorous and fair-minded when reviewing PayPal accounts.'