"I hope in distancing myself from them I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences," the musician said.
Winston Marshall
Credit: Jo Hale/Redferns

Winston Marshall, the guitarist and banjo player of Mumford & Sons, is officially leaving the group after initially taking a leave of absence in light of a controversy that stemmed from his support of a right-wing pundit.

"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," Marshall wrote in a lengthy post on Medium. "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.

"The only way forward for me is to leave the band," he continued. "I hope in distancing myself from them I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences. I leave with love in my heart and I wish those three boys nothing but the best. I have no doubt that their stars will shine long into the future. I will continue my work with Hong Kong Link Up and I look forward to new creative projects as well as speaking and writing on a variety of issues, challenging as they may be."

Marshall came under fire in March after tweeting praise for writer Andy Ngo's book Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy. "Congratulations @MrAndyNgo. Finally had to time read your important book. You're a brave man," the musician wrote.

A few days later, as those online accused him of supporting fascism, Marshall issued an apology and stated that he would be "taking time away from the band to examine [his] blindspots," which he again mentioned in the Medium post. Marshall wrote how he regrets his bandmates "being dragged through some pretty ugly accusations."

During his leave from the band, Marshall mentioned, "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 labeled erroneously just goes to show how binary political discourse has become. I had criticized the 'Left,' so I must be the 'Right,' or so their logic goes."

Marshall stated his "commenting on a book that documents the extreme Far-Left and their activities is in no way an endorsement of the equally repugnant Far-Right."

"The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave," he wrote. "I also feel that my previous apology in a small way participates in the lie that such extremism does not exist, or worse, is a force for good."

Marshall's full remarks can be found on Medium.

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