UK’s Farage dismisses campaign members over racist comments

The hard-right Reform UK party leader Nigel Farage has dismissed members of his election campaign after they were filmed making racist and homophobic comments, he said in a statement Thursday.

Farage, a former EU parliamentarian who has tried and failed to run for the UK parliament seven times, is seeking a seat in the general election next month called by Britain’s embattled Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

An undercover investigation broadcast on Channel 4 filmed campaigners for his Reform UK making racist and homophobic comments last week in Farage’s constituency of Clacton-on-Sea in southeast England.

One campaigner, Andrew Parker, is heard describing Islam as “the most disgusting cult” and calling for Muslims to be kicked “out of mosques” that should be turned into pubs.

Speaking to a constituent, Parker also called for new army recruits to carry out “target practice” by shooting migrants trying to cross the English Channel illegally in boats.

Channel 4 also filmed George Jones, a campaign events organiser for Reform UK, explaining the party’s focus on Clacton: “Look around you. The real England. You know what I mean? Not like London when you’re a foreigner in your own country.”

He later made homophobic remarks including describing the LGBT flag as “degenerate”.

In a statement to Channel 4, Farage said he was “dismayed” by the comments of “a handful of people associated with my local campaign”, and announced they would no longer be part of it.

“The appalling sentiments expressed by some in these exchanges bear no relation to my own views, those of the vast majority of our supporters or Reform UK policy,” Farage said.

Parker said in a separate statement that “neither Nigel Farage personally or the Reform Party are aware of my personal views on immigration”.

According to the anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate, Reform UK has had to withdraw 166 candidates since the beginning of the year, most of whom have made racist or offensive remarks.

Farage’s party is polling third behind the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour party.

But a surge of popularity for Reform UK candidates since Farage took over as leader this month risks drawing away votes that the Conservatives would need to win a fifth term in power.

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