He was invited to address a group that included a few representatives from the US Congress. So, with characteristic modesty, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, told his followers he was going to “address Congress”. He even visited the US embassy last week in a last-ditch attempt to secure a visa. But all of that has been for nothing, because he isn’t getting a visa. So he isn’t going.
As the Guardian has reported, “The British far-right activist Tommy Robinson has not been granted a US visa in time to meet with Republican members of Congress in Washington this week, according to an organiser of the meeting … He was jailed by British authorities in 2013 for using a passport in someone else’s name to travel to the United States from Britain”. And which organiser has broken the news?
“Daniel Pipes, president of the conservative Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum which invited Robinson to the US, said the British activist recently applied for a visa at the US Embassy in London but now realises it “will take a while” for him to be allowed into the country”. It’s those nice people at the Middle East Forum again. The same Middle East Forum that defended Geert Wilders, and is alleged to fund some of Lennon’s activities.
A State Department spokesperson hinted why he didn’t get a visa: “Applications are refused if an applicant is found ineligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act or other provisions of US law”. Moreover, “Pipes said his group was still optimistic that Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, could be granted a US visa at a later date”. Note the less than totally optimistic used of the word “could”.
Lennon has in the meantime been excuse generating, as Hope Not Hate pointed out. “The Gateway Pundit, a far-right alternative media site, gave the most recent indication that Lennon had been refused entry. They reported on 9 November that he had told them he would now be ‘appearing via Skype’ since ‘he has accepted an invitation to go to Australia for ten days and does not want to be away from his family for too long’”.
Yeah, right. That would be the day after he went to the US embassy. He did not go there to decline a visa offer for family reasons. Moreover, it is entirely possible that Lennon has not yet been granted a visa to visit Australia. He may yet be refused one. What is certain is that the attention given to him by groups like Hope Not Hate has, like his recent PayPal ban, had a negative impact on his income stream.
But efforts to lobby against his being allowed into the USA cannot be relaxed. “His criminal record should bar his entry, though there is reason to think he may be successful in the future, not least given the support the Trump administration has shown to Lennon and the ties it has to organisations of the very ilk which are attempting to bring Lennon over”, as Hope Not Hate has pointed out. This time he isn’t getting in. Next time may be different.
And remember, there is only one beneficiary of Stephen Lennon’s campaigns. It isn’t any of the people who donate their hard-won cash. It is himself. I’ll just leave that one there.
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