Sajid Javid praises Nigel Farage for quitting Ukip as he says Brexit Party 'not extremists'
Sajid Javid has praised Nigel Farage for quitting Ukip and dismissed suggestions his new Brexit Party is made up of "extremists".
In a speech in London, the Home Secretary said "populism and even open racism" had "catapulted extremists to power" around the world in recent years.
But he argued that a similar trend had not happened in the UK, as he defended Mr Farage's new outfit despite the Brexit Party he now leads not making "life any easier" for the Tories.
The Cabinet minister said: "Ukip have floundered since they moved further right, with their leader being advised by EDL founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, a man that is now behind bars.
"That decision sparked a wave of resignations and their support has collapsed.
"And we must give credit where credit's due. So I applaud Nigel Farage for walking away, branding Ukip thugs and extremists.
"And even though his Brexit Party has not made my life any easier, I want to be clear: they are not extremists.
"Because it doesn't help to exaggerate the problem, to demonise anyone with a different view and to see danger when it is not there."
Mr Farage quit Ukip late last year after a 25-year-long stint in the party, including three spells as leader.
He blamed his exit on the decision to appoint Mr Yaxley-Lennon - known as Tommy Robinson - as an adviser to the party, and hit out at the "fixation" of Ukip's then-leader Gerrard Batten with anti-Islam policies.
Mr Javid's intervention comes after the Brexit Party surged to the top of the polls in May's European elections.
The party swept up 31.6% of the vote, bagging 29 MEPs, while the Conservatives slumped to fifth place behind the Greens with just 9.1% of the vote.
Elsewhere in his speech, Mr Javid hit out at Donald Trump amid an ongoing row over tweets telling four ethnic minority congresswomen to "go back" to their "broken and crime infested" countries rather than criticise America.
The Home Secretary said: "I’m from an immigrant family, I know what it’s like to be told to go back to where I came from. We must confront the myths about immigration that extremists use to drive divisions.
"We know the scale is exaggerated to stoke up fear and that they use immigration as a proxy for race.
"Anyone can challenge the myths peddled by extremists that deepen divisions. So tell your friends, shout it loud and proud: people from minority backgrounds did not steal our jobs, they’re not terrorists, that there is no global ‘Zionist conspiracy’."