UK Politics

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom 'has regret' over 'Bongo Bongo' phrase

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Media captionMr Bloom's comments were recorded - Video courtesy The Guardian

A UK Independence Party politician has said he "sincerely regrets" causing any offence when he referred to countries receiving government aid as "Bongo Bongo Land".

MEP Godfrey Bloom, who was recorded using the phrase, said he had "subsequently" realised it could be interpreted as "pejorative".

Earlier he stood by the remarks, saying they had highlighted the aid issue.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was "pleased" Mr Bloom had "apologised".

In footage obtained by the Guardian, recorded last month at a meeting in Wordsley, West Midlands, Mr Bloom said: "How we can possibly be giving £1bn a month, when we're in this sort of debt, to Bongo Bongo Land is completely beyond me.

Some of the money had gone on buying "Ray-Ban sunglasses, apartments in Paris, Ferraris and all the rest of it", he added.


When initially questioned over his comments, Mr Bloom told BBC News it would be "absurd" and "ridiculous" to label them racist.

He said Bongo Bongo Land was "a figment of people's imagination. It's like Ruritania or the Third World."

He added: "It's sad how anybody can be offended by a reference to a country that doesn't exist."

Mr Bloom also said: "If I've offended anybody in Bongo Bongo Land I will write to their ambassador at the Court of St James."

However, UKIP chairman Mr Crowther told Sky News: "In my opinion it [Bongo Bongo Land] is a rather outdated description of foreign parts.

"To me it doesn't sound like anybody banging drums. It sounds like a shorthand way of saying places around the world which are in receipt of foreign aid.

"It's not in itself the right word to use and it could seem disparaging to people who come from foreign countries and that's why I've asked him not to do it again."

'No personal usage'

Mr Crowther told the BBC: "It is lazy language, it is old-fashioned, and it is not language we want to hear used by our senior party members. That is a mistake Godfrey has made and he will not make it again."

After this, Mr Bloom issued a statement on his website, saying: "At a public speech in the West Midlands in early July I used a term which I subsequently gather under certain circumstances could be interpreted as pejorative to individuals and possibly cause offence.

"Although quite clearly no such personal usage was intended, I understand from UKIP party chairman Steve Crowther and leader Nigel Farage that I must not use the terminology in the future, nor will I and sincerely regret any genuine offence which might have been caused or embarrassment to my colleagues."

Mr Farage tweeted: "Godfrey 100% right over foreign aid budget but pleased he's apologised over the wrong language he used."

For Labour, shadow international development minister Rushanara Ali said: "These are an offensive and narrow-minded set of remarks."

Laura Pidcock, from campaign group Show Racism the Red Card, told Today that "these crude stereotypes that see Britain as a civilised place and overseas as tribal" were "incredibly damaging".

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