Reform UK campaigners caught making racist slurs

Warning: This story contains offensive language

When Nigel Farage campaigned to become Clacton’s MP, openly homophobic and racist comments by Reform UK members were recorded by an undercover Channel 4 journalist.

Reform UK said those who expressed “unacceptable views” would no longer be part of Mr Farage’s campaign.

The secret recordings feature conversations between Reform UK’s senior campaigner Rob Bates and two other people associated with the party.

Someone associated with the party described the Pride flag on the police car as a “perverted flag” and appeared to make homophobic comments.

“What does the old bill do to encourage that nonsense?” he asks the group.

He repeatedly suggests that members of the LGBT+ community are pedophiles and blames the police for attending Pride.

He adds that if a reformist UK forms a future government, “our police officers will be paramilitary, they won’t be police” and “bring back the ropes”.

He is also shown telling an undercover reporter why Reform UK chose to stand in Clacton: “Perfect England, look around. Perfect English, you know what I mean.”

He said it’s “not like in London, when you’re a foreigner in your own country” and “if you say hello to someone” they seem to “stab you in the face”.

BBC News has been unable to verify the identity of this person and is attempting to contact him.

During the conversation Mr Bates said Reform UK spent “double” the legal spending limit on Mr Farage during his campaign.

Reform UK said campaign spending was “within legal spending limits” for the scheme.

Channel 4 aired further racist, homophobic and Islamophobic slurs by Andrew Parker, identified as Mr Farage’s canvasser, who used racial slurs to refer to Indian-origin Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

video title, See: UK campaigner for reform on Channel 4 secret recordings

Mr Parker described Islam as a “very vile cult” and suggested army recruiters should carry out “target practice” by shooting boats bringing illegal immigrants to the UK.

At one point Mr Parker tells voters the reform will “turn all Muslims out of mosques and into Wetherspoons”.

During the campaign, he advises the undercover reporter to use the word “illegal” when discussing immigration, particularly in non-white households.

Ahead of the footage being released, Mr Parker released a statement to Channel 4 saying “neither Nigel Farage nor the Reform Party are aware of my personal views on immigration”.

Mr Parker said: “I have never discussed immigration with Nigel Farage or the Reform Party and the comments I made during those recordings were my own views on any matter I commented on.

“Therefore, I would like to apologize to Nigel Farage and the Reform Party if my personal comments reflect badly on them, as that was not my intention.”

Speaking at a Reform UK event in Boston, Lincolnshire, party leader Nigel Farage said the party was “not perfect”.

“We’ve had one or two candidates who have said things they shouldn’t have said,” he said. “In most cases they talk like normal people.

“They’re not part of mainstream politics Oxbridge and we understand that. Sometimes one or two people let us down and we let them go.

“Well, compare that to the international price-fixing and racing ring that is the International Conservative Party.”

He was joined by Richard Tice, chairman of Hubbards Bridge Community Centre, who said the racist comments were “inappropriate”.

He said: “We issued a statement which is self-explanatory in the statement.

“The truth is, we’re a fast-growing movement, and when you have unpaid volunteers, some people behave inappropriately. They’re gone.”

Peter Harris, campaign manager for Reform UK in Clacton, said he was “appalled by these reported comments”.

“All parties in such a short campaign have to deal with the challenges of working with many activists they have never met before,” Mr Harris added.

“Unacceptable views and people identified as holding those views are not welcome in our campaign. We are running a campaign that represents all voters in Clacton.”

Other general election candidates standing in Clacton can be found here.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer called the comments “clearly racist” and said the scandal was a test of Mr Farage’s leadership.

“A leader has to change his party to make sure the culture is right – and the standards are understood by everyone in the party,” Sir Keir told BBC Breakfast.

“You have to ask why so many people who supported the reform are being exposed in this particular way,” he added.

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