A member of Mumford & Sons has quit the multi-platinum selling band after falling victim to "cancel culture" when he praised a writer critical of the far-Left.
Winston Marshall said he was leaving the group so that he could speak freely on controversial issues.
The banjo player is the son of Sir Paul Marshall, a hedge fund boss and one of the financial backers of GB News.
In March, the musician tweeted praise for Andy Ngo and his book, Unmasked. The book is billed as an exposé of Antifa, the anti-fascist movement, which Ngo described as a violent hate group.
"Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man," Marshall wrote.
His comments led to a barrage of criticism and accusations that he was endorsing fascism. Ngo is a conservative journalist who has attracted controversy over his reporting methods.
Initially, Marshall made a public apology and said he was "truly sorry" for offending the public and his bandmates.
But in a lengthy blog post yesterday, Marshall said he had decided to quit.
“Why I’m Leaving Mumford & Sons” by Winston Marshallhttps://t.co/JUraN3IDr3
— Winston Marshall (@MrWinMarshall) June 24, 2021
"For me to speak about what I’ve learnt to be such a controversial issue will inevitably bring my bandmates more trouble.
"My love, loyalty and accountability to them cannot permit that. I could remain and continue to self-censor but it will erode my sense of integrity. Gnaw my conscience. I’ve already felt that beginning."
He added: "The only way forward for me is to leave the band. I hope in distancing myself from them I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences."
Marshall, 33, said it was "ludicrous beyond belief" to call him a fascist, pointing out that 13 members of his family were murdered in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
“I failed to foresee that my commenting on a book critical of the far-Left could be interpreted as approval of the equally abhorrent far-Right. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.
Marshall said he made his original apology because he regretted the distress that his tweet had caused to his bandmates, pictured below.
"Unintentionally, I had pulled them into a divisive and totemic issue. Emotions were high. Despite pressure to nix me they invited me to continue with the band. That took courage, particularly in the age of so-called ‘cancel culture’.
"I made an apology and agreed to take a temporary step back,” he said.
"Rather predictably another viral mob came after me, this time for the sin of apologising. Then followed libellous articles calling me ‘right wing’ and such.
"Though there’s nothing wrong with being conservative, when forced to politically label myself I flutter between ‘centrist’, ‘liberal’ or the more honest, ‘bit this, bit that’.
"Being labelled erroneously just goes to show how binary political discourse has become. I had criticised the ‘Left’, so I must be the ‘Right’, or so their logic goes."
Marshall said he looked forward to "speaking and writing on a variety of issues, challenging as they may be".
Paul Marshall shared the blog post on his own Twitter account and wrote: "Very proud of my son!"
The other members of the band include Marcus Mumford, the lead singer, who is married to Carey Mulligan, the Oscar-nominated actress.
The band formed in 2007 and have won two Grammys and two Brit Awards. They headlined Glastonbury in 2013, and in 2012 played for David Cameron and Barack Obama during a state dinner at the White House.
Mr Cameron has cited them as one of his favourite bands.
Marshall said he wished his bandmates "nothing but the best".
The band responded with the message: "We wish you all the best for the future, Win, and we love you man."