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Prime Minister urged to block peerage of former Brexit Party MEP over IRA Warrington bomb comments

Claire Fox

The Prime Minister has been urged to block the peerage of a former Brexit Party MEP who previously failed to condemn the IRA Warrington bomb.

Claire Fox was one of 36 people to the Lords by Boris Johnson.

At the time of the 1993 attack, which killed two boys and injured more than 50, Claire Fox was a leading member of the Revolutionary Communist Party which said “the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures are necessary in their struggle for freedom”.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, Labour’s Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols said Ms Fox’s nomination had caused hurt to those directly affected by bombing and “revulsion” in her constituency.

“To allow Ms Fox to become a Life Peer would be to show crass insensitivity to victims of terrorism, and to the communities still scarred by the attack 27 years on,” she said.

“Warrington will never forget that day, nor the victims whose lives were cruelly cut short.”

Labour’s MP for Ashton under Lyne, Angela Rayner, added that Boris Johnson’s failure to block the peerage was “an insult to the people of the North West and shows that he doesn’t care about the victims and survivors of terrorism in our communities”.

She added: “If the Prime Minister refuses to block this nomination he is showing that he doesn’t care about the victims and survivors of terrorism in our communities.”

Ms Fox has denied defending IRA terrorism, and when asked about the controversy on Sky News this week, she said her views had moved on.

“Well it is true that I was involved in revolutionary politics a long time ago and they will have been views that I had then that I think at the time were part and parcel of politics as they were understood, including on Ireland, and they are very controversial today, but it was a long time ago”.

She added: “That’s what I’d say, it was a long time ago. Times have moved on, I understand people are very angry about views I had...27 years ago. That’s life, you know. I stand on what I say now.”

Asked about accepting a peerage after calling for the House of Lords to be abolished, she said: “I appreciate that people will want to level the charge of hypocrisy against me but I just think that although it’s an unelected chamber and I do think it’s an affront to democracy I’m pleased to be given and opportunity and a platform to argue for things that I feel very strongly about, like for example free speech and obviously some of the ideas associated with Brexit.

“So I’ve taken it. I’ve given it some thought as you would imagine.”

Colin Parry’s 12-year-old son Tim was killed in the Warrington bomb in the attack as well as three-year-old Johnathan Ball.

Mr Parry criticised the decision to hand Ms Fox a peerage, saying: “This offends me and many others deeply.”

The Daily Mirror reported that an earlier statement from Ms Fox added: “Contrary to what has been reported elsewhere, I do not support or defend the IRA’s killing of two young boys in Warrington in 1993.

“I have not mentioned the horrific times of over 23 (now 27) years ago since then and do not believe there is any justification for violence in Ireland today.

“The killing of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry was a terrible tragedy.

“The 1994 IRA ceasefire and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement drew a line under the conflict. It’s surely time to move on.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Claire Fox has addressed her historic comments about the Troubles and acknowledged the pain that the families of the victims of terrorism have faced.

“She is not a Conservative peer, and her political views will differ from those of the Conservative Government.”

Mr Johnson’s list also includes Tory donors, his brother Jo and long-term friends such as the Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev.

Belfast Telegraph