Wednesday 25 April 2018

Ukip storm over sick and racist messages

Party leader's girlfriend wrote about Markle and child abuse

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle listen to a broadcast through headphones during a visit to radio station Reprezent FM in London Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle listen to a broadcast through headphones during a visit to radio station Reprezent FM in London Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Steven Swinford and Jack Maidment

The leader of Ukip has been told to choose between his job and his new girlfriend after it emerged that she sent graphic messages referencing the sexual abuse of babies in an argument with a friend.

Henry Bolton is today expected to insist that he will stay on as leader for the good of the party after it emerged that Jo Marney, his 25-year-old girlfriend, made racist remarks about Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's fiancée.

Ukip leader Henry Bolton with his estranged wife Tatiana Photo: Henry Bolton/PA Wire
Ukip leader Henry Bolton with his estranged wife Tatiana Photo: Henry Bolton/PA Wire

The pressure on him increased further after it emerged that Ms Marney sent a friend a series of messages on Facebook about child abuse to make a point about animal rights.

In the messages, which have been seen by this reporter but are too graphic to print, she tries to make the case for the gravity of animal abuse by comparing it to acts of child abuse.

She subsequently accuses her friend of editing the message to "make it look like I was saying random weird things".

"I was highlighting the point of animal abuse by using a baby in comparison to the animal," she said.

Bolton with his girlfriend Jo Marney
Bolton with his girlfriend Jo Marney

Ukip said Ms Marney did not wish to comment further.

Mr Bolton is today expected to use a broadcast interview to say that he is the man to lead Ukip and warn that the party could suffer irreparable damage if he stands down.

It is understood that his relationship with Ms Marney is "on hold" as they attempt to deal with the fallout from the messages.

Mr Bolton's decision to leave his wife for Ms Marney, and the publicity which followed, was poorly received by some Ukip activists.

Bolton with Marney
Bolton with Marney

At the weekend it emerged that the glamour model made a series of comments about Ms Markle, which included a suggestion that the actress would "taint our royal family" with her "seed".

She added: "Pushing their way to the top slowly slowly. Next will be a Muslim Pm. And a black king."

The party's ruling national executive committee is due to discuss Mr Bolton's status at a meeting on Sunday.

Paul Oakden, Ukip's chairman, suggested Mr Bolton (54) could quit before then forcing Ukip to elect its fourth leader in less than two years.

He told the BBC's 'Sunday Politics' programme: "I think it is very clear that Henry is increasingly in a position where he has got some difficult decisions to make. He knows that. He and I have spoken regularly over the weekend and as recently as this morning. I know that he is very focused on those decisions today. He intends on making those decisions today and I am sure whatever he does will be in the best interests of the party."

He added: "They will consult with the leader a week today [Sunday], if he is still the leader at that point, and they will collectively make a decision on what to do going forward."

Even if Mr Bolton does choose to leave Ms Marney, he could still be forced to stand down as leader over the leaked messages.

'The Mail on Sunday' reported that in the messages Ms Marney referred to Ms Markle as a "dumb little commoner" with a "tiny brain".

She also used the word "negro" in the exchange and said "this is Britain, not Africa" during a discussion about the royal engagement.

When her friend suggested her comments were "racist", Ms Marney replied "lol so what".

Mr Bolton said yesterday that Ms Marney had been suspended from Ukip.

Following the publication of the text messages, Bill Etheridge, a Ukip MEP and former leadership contender, threatened to quit as a party spokesman if Mr Bolton does not stand down.

Ms Marney said in a statement about her comment on Ms Markle: "The opinions I expressed were deliberately exaggerated in order to make a point and have, to an extent, been taken out of context. Yet I fully recognise the offence they have caused."

Irish Independent

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