Ministers condemn UKIP's 'fifth column' claim after Paris attack

8th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

British ministers on Thursday condemned comments by the leader of the anti-mass immigration UK Independence Party that a deadly attack in France was the result of a "fifth column" living in Western societies.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the remarks by UKIP leader Nigel Farage were "irresponsible", while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was trying to make "political points".

Farage spoke on Channel 4 television late Wednesday after 12 people were shot dead by suspected Islamists at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

"There is a very strong argument that says that what happened in Paris today is a result -- and we've seen it in London too -- is a result I'm afraid of now having a fifth column living within these countries," he said.

"We've got people living in these countries, holding our passports, who hate us," he continued, adding that these numbers were "very, very small".

UKIP was until a few years ago a marginal party with the single goal of ending Britain's membership of the European Union. But it has become an increasing political force, pushing immigration issues up the agenda.

"I think it is irresponsible to talk about a fifth column," May told reporters after chairing a meeting of the government's emergency committee on the Paris attack.

"We should all be working, across society, to ensure that we deal with and eradicate extremism, wherever it exists."

Clegg said he was "dismayed" by Farage's comments.

He said on his weekly radio show that the UKIP leader had implied that "many, many British Muslims, who I know feel fervently British but also are very proud of their Muslim faith, are somehow part of the problem rather than part of the solution".

Farage was therefore "firmly grabbing the wrong end of the stick", he said.

© 2015 AFP

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