UK Politics

Ex-UKIP leader Henry Bolton and Jo Marney: We're not racists

Henry Bolton and Jo Marney Image copyright ITV THIS MORNING

UKIP says ousted leader Henry Bolton has now quit the party.

The announcement came as Mr Bolton made a joint appearance with girlfriend Jo Marney on ITV's This Morning programme.

The pair insisted they were not "private racists" after being confronted with messages posted by Ms Marney on social media, including her description of Grenfell Tower as "a nest of illegal immigrants".

Asked if Ms Marney was worth losing his job over, Mr Bolton said: "Yes."

But the 54-year-old blamed rivals in UKIP for using his relationship with the 25-year-old model, and the controversy around her social-media messages, to get rid him for political reasons.

He was also read a lengthy statement from his wife of 11 years, Tatiana Smurova-Bolton, whom he left shortly before Christmas.

"The past few months have been horrendous for me and my family," the statement said.

"Rather than trying to protect the privacy of the children he hurt so badly, my still-husband has given countless interviews proclaiming his feelings for his lover while still being legally married."

Mr Bolton claimed "people within the party" had "aggravated the situation" but added: "I have brought about a situation which has caused a lot of hurt and distress and I am very, very sorry for that."

He defended Ms Marney over the message she had posted about Grenfell Tower, saying it had been taken out of context, and there was a debate to be had about illegal immigration.

Ms Marney said "the language that I used was not good" but she had not meant to "cause offence".

'Sad period'

Asked about the private WhatsApp messages about Prince Harry's fiancee, Meghan Markle, who she said would "taint" the Royal Family, she said: "My comments were disgusting - they were meant to be shocking."

But she had "never intended" the messages to be made public and they "don't reflect my views".

"Who can realistically say they have never said anything offensive in private?" asked Ms Marney.

Asked if the couple were "private racists", Mr Bolton said: "No of course not."

Mr Bolton was voted out as party leader at a special meeting of UKIP members at the weekend, five months after his leadership victory.

Interim UKIP leader Gerard Batten said Mr Bolton's resignation "will draw a line under a sad period" for the party.

But he said it "will allow us to concentrate on our core duty of representing the millions that have voted for us, and the 17.4 million whose decision in the referendum is being betrayed by a political class, especially the leadership of both the Conservatives and Labour".

He added: "On a personal level, I have written to Henry expressing my and the party's best wishes in whatever it is that he chooses to do next'."

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