UK Politics

Tory Syed Kamall apology after socialism 'Nazis' remark

Syed Kamall Image copyright European Parliament

A senior Conservative Party politician has apologised after comparing the views of socialists in the European Parliament with those of Nazis.

Syed Kamall, who leads the Conservatives group in the EU Parliament, sparked an outcry in Strasbourg when he said Nazism was a "strain of socialism".

"They want the same things as you," he told socialist MEPs.

After angry responses, Mr Kamall apologised "unreservedly".

The row broke out when Mr Kamall responded to a warning from Udo Bullmann, the German leader of the Socialists and Democrats Group, about the rise in "right-ring" extremist movements.

Mr Kamall said: "I would remind you, when you talk about right-wing extremists, we have to remember that the Nazis were National Socialists. It is a strain of socialism. Let's not pretend."

Amid jeers from MEPs, with one calling him an "idiot", Mr Kamall went on: "It's a left-wing ideology. They want the same things as you, let's be clear. You don't like the truth, do you?"

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal ALDE group, called the comments an "insult to all those social democrats who fought against Nazis", and urged Mr Kamall to apologise.

Mr Bullmann said it was "an awful thing to say" and said that German social democrats had voted against Hitler's group in the Reichstag.

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Media captionIn full: European Parliament president v Nigel Farage

Mr Kamall responded: "I get tired of people saying Nazism is a right-wing ideology. I believe in freedom of speech, but if I have offended you - and clearly I have - I apologise unreservedly."

He later tweeted: "It was not a personal comment aimed at any MEPs."

During the same sitting, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani clashed with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage as he said the EU had ended the "ghastly and terrible systems" of Nazism and Soviet communism.

Mr Farage said Mr Tajani was trying to "rewrite history" and said his remarks were "deeply insulting" to the efforts of the United States.

Mr Tajani replied: "Seventy years of peace have existed in Europe since the two horrible dictatorships and that is due to the European Union, so perhaps you should be a bit more careful in your reading of history."