The supposedly immigration-resistant UK Independence Party is “not a racist party”, it’s leader claims after he appeared at a London conference surrounded by ethnic minority supporters on Wednesday.
Nigel Farage said the perception of UKIP had been tainted by a handful of candidates who had said “stupid and offensive” things about immigrants and people of colour.
However, those views did not represent the views of his party, Mr Farage added.
Mr Farage was addressing a gathering at a church in Central London Wednesday night aimed at showing the party’s “inclusive” nature, appearing on stage with a host of female, black and British Asian supporters.
The gathering however, was disrupted several times by protesters accusing UKIP of racism.
In recent weeks the party has been ridiculed after one UKIP candidate described Islam as “pure evil” while another tweeted that Jamaican-origin comedian Lenny Henry should be sent to a “black country”.
Mr Farage however, said people with “offensive and idiotic” views had managed to “sneak in” to UKIP’s ranks, despite his efforts to keep out candidates with extreme views.
He insisted they did not represent the party.
“I don’t care what you call us, but from this moment on, please do not call us a racist party”, he said.
Mr Farage, who proposes that Britain withdraw from the European Union, called for “stronger” ties with the Commonwealth.
Pakistan-born Amjad Bashir, UKIP’s spokesperson for small business, said the party had been the victim of “evil lies”.
Mr Bashir: “I find racism – and I have experienced it – abhorrent. Take a look at all the faces and skin colours represented on this stage and tell me Ukip is a racist party.”