© Mike Turner / Prospect / Justin Metz

Candid Calvin

Former GB News presenter Calvin Robinson is an anti-woke crusader—and just possibly Britain’s strangest cleric of all time
March 27, 2024

When the actor Laurence Fox switched from showbiz into politics, it was not just politics that was impoverished by the move. The world lost a great comic talent. In his new video series with cleric Calvin Robinson, the alt-right agitator Fox plays the part of a bewildered but ever-optimistic toff, adrift in a hostile world, with never a hint that he is in on the joke. Imagine Bertie Wooster crossed with Alan Partridge, nodding along while Robinson—resplendent in his dog collar—smirkingly explains that Joe Biden is a paedophile who used to shower “inappropriately” with his own daughter.

“I don’t know”, says Robinson—Britain’s strangest cleric who has somehow become a leading figure in the culture wars—“but I don’t think Joe Biden is necessarily against the exploitation of children… I am trying to say that [Joe Biden’s daughter] misplaced her diary, and in that diary she may have said that she had inappropriate showers with her father at an inappropriate age.” 

“All the footage of him sniffing children and groping children. It’s disgusting. So people that can still support him—I don’t know the level of cognitive dissonance that would make you… compartmentalise that in your brain to still support someone like that.”

Robinson was hired as a GB News presenter and commentator in summer 2021—rather a turnaround for his career, as he had been denied a placement with the Church of England after two years’ training at a theological college. Robinson says it was for his political views: he is loudly opposed both to “wokeness” and to claims that the UK is institutionally racist. (The 38-year-old is mixed race, of Jamaican and English descent.) He recently told his 330,000 followers on X that Justin Welby was not fit to be archbishop of Canterbury because he had sent a goodwill message to Muslims at the start of Ramadan. 

His subsequent career suggests that the bishop of London, who refused him a placement, had a point. He was first made a deacon in a tiny Protestant groupuscule, “The Free Church of England”, and took over a congregation in Harlesden which advertised itself online using pictures of splendid interiors from the Natural History Museum and, just as bizarrely, a church in the Philippines.

Last year, though, he was ordained a priest in an equally small but international groupuscule: the Nordic Catholic Church, founded by Norwegians who could not accept the ordination of women, and who are allied with the Old Catholics who split from Rome in 1870 because they rejected the doctrine of papal infallibility. They prefer their own.

Robinson and Fox presumably spend so much time on X because they have been thrown out of almost every other part of showbiz—even GB News, though Fox still can’t understand why. “Why the fuck do we have Ofcom?… Defund the BBC! Defund Ofcom!… An Ofcommunist regulator.”

Fox was sacked by GB News for telling the world that he wouldn’t want to shag a named journalist, while his host, Dan Wootton, laughed along. Wootton also lost his job as a result. 

Calvin and Laurence sit in leather armchairs and suck ostentatiously on large cigars

Reincarnated on their own online show, Fox and Father, they sit in leather armchairs and suck ostentatiously on large cigars. That part of the set looks as if it were meant to suggest a gentlemen’s club, but the talk feels a bit more QAnon than you’d hear at the Athenaeum. 

Robinson also has his own show, Common Sense Crusade, where he can work, he says, “without all those liberal producers in my ear.” There he can say such common-sense things as “Christianity is the fulfilment of [Judaism], and God grafted everyone into it… Islam is the opposite. They took the truth, they took what was Judaism, they took what was Christianity and twisted it into hate, lies, murder, paedophilia.” He can gravely ask his guest Tommy Robinson about the prospects for a civil war. The host and guest are separated by a mural of crusader knights and the Cross of St George.

But Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League (EDL), is the real thing. Where Calvin and Lozza blether in their armchairs about the assault on heteronormativity and the patriarchy, Tommy sits up on a hard studio chair and says, “If you punch me in the nose, I’ll punch you back… We either stand up for what we know is right… or we’re cowards.”

He knows what he’s talking about. Tommy Robinson’s first prison sentence was served in 2005, after he beat up an off-duty policeman who had intervened in an argument he was having with a girlfriend. He has since been imprisoned for mortgage fraud in 2014 and contempt of court in 2019. Common Sense Crusade describes him as a “notorious independent journalist… one of the UK’s first victims of cancel culture.”

The far-right anti-Islam EDL specialised in street demonstrations by young men who acted as if they would not hesitate to beat up their opponents.

Tommy Robinson is not a nice man, but he’s not stupid either—and he understands the working-class young men for whom football hooliganism is an expression of community spirit. That’s who he was himself before he discovered his winning formula. In jail on yet another occasion, he read the Quran and marked up all the most hostile passages. 

Now he has published a book to reflect that reading. He talks us through it: “In the first ten years of Muhammad’s life, he had 350 followers and he was very peaceful. Then he introduced sexual slavery, rape, torture, pillaging—and he found his winning formula… We put all the verses that call for rape, war, murder, anything, are in capital letters, so you can pick this book up very easily and see how much hate is in it.” 

Both men agree that Muslims control the cities now. “They have the major cities, and we’re all out in the sticks,” says Tommy.

Fox and Father is a joke, but Calvin having Tommy Robinson as his first guest on his own show tells you much about the former’s preoccupations. And the choice of Calvin Robinson—of all the clerics in Britain—as a presenter tells you much about the ethos of GB News.