UKIP Candidate Quits Over Offensive Remarks
A high-profile UKIP Westminster hopeful has quit as the party’s candidate in a top target seat after making offensive comments.
In recordings of phone calls obtained by the Mail on Sunday, Kerry Smith is said to have mocked gay party members as “poofters”, and referred to someone as a “chinky bird”.
He also joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt”.
In a statement released on Sunday evening, he said: “I have this evening offered my resignation as UKIP PPC for South Basildon and East Thurrock.
“I want the best for South Basildon and East Thurrock and I want to see the real issues discussed that touch the lives of people.
“Therefore I have chosen to resign so that Ukip can win this seat next May.”
Mr Smith’s resignation comes just days after he was reinstated as the party’s election candidate in South Basildon and East Thurrock.
Mr Smith, a member of both Essex County Council and Basildon District Council, initially apologised and said he had been under great stress and taking strong painkillers for a back injury when he made the comments.
Mr Kerry also accepted claims he made in the calls about party leader Nigel Farage and other senior figures were “completely wrong” and “fuelled by frustrations at the time”.
Mr Smith was deselected as the candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock in October – with Neil Hamilton, the former Tory minister who is now UKIP’s deputy chairman, in the running to win the nomination.
But Mr Hamilton ended up endorsing the Essex county councillor in his hustings speech after Mr Smith was reinstated.
It led the ex-Conservative to hit out at party insiders over a “dirty tricks” campaign being run against him.
A party spokesman was unable to say when the selection process would be run again, and Mr Hamilton declined to comment on Mr Smith’s resignation or his own plans.
UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn said of Mr Smith’s comments before he announced his resignation: “He needs to learn to express himself more respectfully about minorities of all kinds now he is off the prescription drugs and he is our candidate.”
But he added: “He is very popular… He is a young man, he is learning politics.
“We don’t want to become so anodyne and speaking in such non-colloquial language that we lose touch and I think some of the other parties risk doing that.
“But clearly what he said there is unacceptable. He has apologised unreservedly. There are big mitigating circumstances.
“It is from some time ago and we are willing now to judge him on his performance going forward from now.”
From Sky News 14.12.2014