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Reform UK candidate drops out and backs Tories amid racism row

today30/06/2024

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Reform UK candidate drops out and backs Tories amid racism row

A Reform UK candidate has criticised a “failure of leadership” over allegations of racism within the party as he stepped down and backed the Conservatives in another blow to Nigel Farage’s campaign.

Liam Booth-Isherwood, who was standing in the seat of Erewash, announced he was dropping out of the race, and would instead be endorsing the Tory contender Maggie Throup to “stop Labour”.

The candidate said he had become “increasingly disillusioned” with the behaviour of the party, which he suggested indicated a “significant moral issue” within its ranks.

Mr Booth-Isherwood said in a statement: “I am today announcing my decision to leave the Reform Party and have suspended my campaign as the Reform candidate for Erewash with immediate effect.

“Over the past few weeks, I have been increasingly disillusioned with the behaviour and conduct of Reform.

“Whilst I have campaigned alongside many decent, honest and hardworking people during the course of the General Election campaign in Erewash, the reports of widespread racism and sexism in Reform have made clear that there is a significant moral issue within certain elements of the party, and the failure of the party’s leadership to not only take this matter seriously, but also to fundamentally address it, has made clear to me that this is no longer a party I want to be associated with.

“As a result, I am announcing my endorsement of the Conservative Party candidate, Maggie Throup, for Erewash. Only she can stop Labour.”

It comes after Mr Farage faced criticism from across the political divide for failing to tackle accusations of racism within Reform, which have engulfed the party in recent days.

The party leader insisted earlier on Sunday that “the bad apples are gone” after withdrawing support for three candidates over the row.

Campaigners for Reform in the Clacton seat Mr Farage hopes to win in Essex were also recorded by an undercover journalist from Channel 4 making racist comments, including about the Prime Minister, who is of Indian descent.

The footage showed canvasser Andrew Parker using a slur about Mr Sunak and suggesting migrants arriving in the UK on small boats should be used as “target practice”.

Another activist described the Pride flag as “degenerate” and suggested members of the LGBT community are paedophiles.

Mr Farage has suggested that Mr Parker, who is an actor, was used as a “plant” by Channel 4 in its undercover investigation into his campaign – a claim the broadcaster strenuously denies.

Mr Parker has told the PA news agency that his acting work is separate from his volunteering for Reform UK, which he said he started doing of his own volition because he believed in the party’s message.

He has apologised for the remarks, which he said he was “goaded” into making.

Meanwhile, Reform has confirmed it has dropped support for candidates Leslie Lilley in Southend East and Rochford; Edward Oakenfull in Derbyshire Dales; and Robert Lomas in Barnsley North.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he shared Mr Sunak’s “disgust” at the use of the slur, which the Prime Minister has condemned as “vile” and “racist”.

Channel 4 hit back at the claims Mr Parker was a paid actor, with a spokesperson for the broadcaster saying: “We met Mr Parker for the first time at Reform UK party headquarters, where he was a Reform party canvasser.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

Written by: Radio News Hub


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