Jacob Rees-Mogg has denied supporting a German far-right party after he was criticised for sharing a speech by its leader on social media.
The Tory Brexiteer said the address by Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) Alice Weidel was of “real importance” because it shows a “German view of Brexit”.
He had come under fire for sharing a clip of the speech on Twitter, below which he wrote: “The AfD leader asks ‘Is it any wonder the British see bad faith behind every manoeuvre from Brussels?’”
The AfD leader asks "Is it any wonder the British see bad faith behind every manoeuvre from Brussels?" https://t.co/hc7wtyLkiA— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) March 31, 2019
Labour MP David Lammy accused Mr Rees-Mogg of “promoting Germany’s overtly racist party, AfD”.
He tweeted: “Our country’s proudest moment was defeating the far right.
“Now we are supposed to sit back while xenophobes, nativists, nationalists & isolationists do their best to tear Europe apart again. We must not let them win.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg promoting Germany's overtly racist party, AfD. Our country's proudest moment was defeating the far right. Now we are supposed to sit back while xenophobes, nativists, nationalists & isolationists do their best to tear Europe apart again. We must not let them win. https://t.co/L9QMLAzw1D— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 1, 2019
But Mr Rees-Mogg told LBC radio: “I’m not supporting the AfD, but this is a speech made in the Bundestag of real importance because it shows a German view of Brexit.
“And it is saying to the Germans, ‘Look, you’re paying for this, you’re going to pay more for this’ and Angela Merkel has tied herself up in knots with the French to the disadvantage of the Germans.
“And I think it’s important people know that this is a strand of German political thinking.
“I don’t think retweeting is an endorsement of things that other people stand for – it’s just pointing out that there’s something interesting that is worth watching.”
And he later defended the tweet again after a Labour MP called on him to apologise for it in the House of Commons.
He accused Wes Streeting of “jumping to weird conclusions” after the member for Ilford North said he should say sorry for “quoting apparently approvingly” the far-right party.
Mr Rees-Mogg refused, saying: “I think it is reasonable to quote speeches made in the German parliament.”
He added: “And what was said was extremely interesting, and just referring people to what has been said is not necessarily an endorsement.”
The AfD was founded in 2013 as a Eurosceptic party, and has since campaigned for tougher immigration laws.
Its stance on race and religion have provoked outrage in Germany, and it came under heavy criticism last year for posters which called for “Islam-free schools”.