Veteran soldiers have rubbished a Midland BNP leader for claiming there is ‘no space’ in Britain for Gurkha heroes.
Simon Darby said his far-right party wanted the Government to ban the Nepalese soldiers from living in the UK. But his comments were condemned by the Royal British Legion, days after the Gurkhas won a landmark victory to settle here following a campaign led by Ab Fab actress Joanna Lumley.
Deputy BNP leader Mr Darby, who is standing as a West Midlands candidate in next month’s Euro elections, was filmed saying the famous fighting soldiers should be barred from Britain earlier this month. He had been questioned on the BNP’s stance on the issue and said: “This question highlights the way the British army is opening itself up to become a mercenary army, with so many foreign people serving in it. It’s a bad idea, right, a bad idea.
“Nowhere in the Gurkha’s contracts – all those Gurkhas – does it say that you have a right to live in this country after your service. Yes, within reason some of them can stay. But 100,000 people? For Heaven’s sake. It’s not on is it? No.”
But Robert Lee, Head of Campaigns at the Royal British Legion, said: “We have made it possible for 186 Gurkhas to live here while they campaigned for justice. “In that regard we are 100 per cent Joanna Lumley and 0 per cent BNP. The Royal British Legion fully supports the rights of the Gurkhas to live in Britain because we feel they would make a long-lasting and valuable contribution to society.”
And a spokesman for anti-fascist campaigners Searchlight also criticised the BNP comments. He said: “It’s difficult to know what is more nauseating, Darby’s prejudice or his hypocrisy. In public he pretends to support the Gurkhas, but in front of his bigoted supporters he attacks them as mercenaries. The Gurkhas have fought and died for this country for generations, yet even they are not immune from Simon Darby’s vile smears.’’
The video emerged in the same week BNP leader Nick Griffin was condemned for claiming ‘Gurkha ghettos’ would emerge should they win the right to settle in Britain.
But Mr Darby, who previously attracted criticism for calling Ugandans ‘spear-throwers’, defended his latest comments about the brave foreign soldiers.
He said: “Look, I don’t want to see a couple of old boys get kicked out, but the idea of 100,000 of them coming over is just unacceptable, there just isn’t enough space. It is simply a matter of space. For me the answer is to allow them medical treatment and give them a proper pension, but they shouldn’t be allowed to settle here.”