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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson denied US visa

The far-right campaigner was set to make around £1 million during the trip

The far-right activist known as Tommy Robinson. EPA
The far-right activist known as Tommy Robinson. EPA

British far-right activist Tommy Robinson has failed to get a United States visa in time for a fundraising tour of the country.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, had been due to meet Republican congressmen in Washington as well as the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum (MEF).

British politicians said that the former leader of the anti-Muslim English Defence League could make up to £1 million (Dh4.7m) through speaking appearances.

Robinson was jailed in the UK in 2013 for using someone else’s passport to travel to the US. He has also served time in prison for assault and mortgage fraud and has been convicted of drug offences.

The 35-year-old is currently on bail after being charged with contempt of court by British authorities earlier this year in a highly publicised case which gained him supporters in US far-right circles.

MEF president David Pipes, who invited Robinson to the US, said it would “take a while” for the campaigner to obtain a visa.

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Robinson will still appear via video link at a panel discussion hosted by the MEF on Wednesday with former editor-in-chief for Breitbart London Raheem Kassam, Canadian activist Ezra Levant and Anne Marie Waters, leader of the far-right For Britain party.

The topic of discussion is “de-platforming”. Paypal recently blocked Robinson from using their service. Robinson said the reason for his ban was because he did not fit within the company’s user guidelines but that followers could “support” him using Bitcoin instead.

An ex-assistant for Robinson said he had received up to £2m in donations since he was jailed and his appeal case this year.

The father-of-three also has plans to visit Australia next month as part of a five-city speaking tour. Tickets for the event, in which Robinson is joined by Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, are priced up to $995.

Last week, dozens of British politicians signed a joint letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge him not to allow Robinson into the country.

The MPs said Robinson was using the trip to “promote his violent and extremist agenda” and would use any funds garnered to “disruptive demonstrations in communities in the UK”.

The State Department said it did not discuss individual visa cases in accordance with US law.

“Applications are refused if an applicant is found ineligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act or other provisions of US law,” a spokesman said.

It is likely Robinson would have found obtaining a visa problematic given his previous criminal convictions.