Geert Wilders’ stunning election victory serves as a warning to Rishi Sunak about the folly of ignoring voters sick of lectures from “liberal elites”, Reform UK deputy leader Ben Habib has said.
The Dutch right-winger’s Party of Freedom (PVV) confounded pundits by picking up 37 seats in the last week’s Netherlands general election – far more than any other party.
The 60-year-old veteran – who wants a referendum on his country’s ongoing membership of the European Union – is now pushing to become Prime Minister at the head of a coalition government, with tough negotiations now inevitable.
However, regardless of their outcome, Mr Habib said the message for the UK’s own PM was clear.
He told Express.co.uk: “The liberal elite see themselves as the determinants and guardians of moral correctitude: ‘The intellectually challenged working and middle classes need controlling’.
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“And, with the march to globalisation, nation states across western democracies are being hollowed out. T
“Their language, cultures, history and values all under attack.”
People were getting “fed-up”, Mr Habib, a former Brexit Party MEP, suggested.
He explained: “They want their political class to do as they wish and what is in the national interest.
Geert Wilders celebrates Dutch election exit poll results
“Mainstream media paint such people as far-right nationalists and, on occasion, also populist xenophobic racists.
“There is no easier way to defeat your enemy than by undermining their integrity. Or at least that was once the case.”
However, he continued: “People are seeing through the gumph they have been incessantly fed for decades by the elite. They are voting for change.
“I do not know Geert Wilders beyond MSM’s description of him as a far right Islamophobe. I cannot and will not be an apologist for him. But even though I do not know him, I suspect MSM is wrong.
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“Certainly, the people of the Netherlands disagree with MSM. That is why he won the most seats in the recent Dutch elections.
“His victory is, for sure, being noted across the UK. The message to our own political class is simple; Reform or get out.”
Mr Wilders, who has been compared with former US President Donald Trump, is a highly controversial figure in Dutch politics, who is on record as calling for the “de-Islamisation” of the Netherlands.
After a meeting of party leaders at the parliament, PVV Senator Gom van Strien was appointed to investigate possible coalitions. Newly elected MPs will debate his findings on December 6.
The election result and appointment of Van Strien pave the way for Wilders to take the lead in forming a new coalition and potentially to succeed Rutte as prime minister. However, he will likely have to convince potential coalition partners that he would tone down some of his anti-Islam policies.
His party’s election platform states that the Netherlands “is not an Islamic country. No Islamic schools, Qurans and mosques.”
In an election-night victory speech, Wilders pledged not to push any policies that would breach Dutch law or the constitution.
Nevertheless, his foreign policy also has raised concern among the Netherlands’ allies, Dutch caretaker Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said Friday.
Wilders’ election program says “we will not send our money and defence equipment such as F-16s to Ukraine”.
Speaking Friday at a meeting of far-right leaders in Portugal, Marine Le Pen of France called Wilders’ win a vote of conscience “that attests for the defeat of those that have been in power for the past 30 years.”
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