Nigel Farage has accused the media of unfairly highighting the views of a UK Independence Party (Ukip) councillor about the floods and gay marriage - as he claimed the three main political parties were “scared witless” of his party.
Mr Farage initially joked about the “incredibly damaging” effect when “defectors” from the Conservative Party join Ukip and say “appalling and outrageous things” before going on to claim that the views of Henley-on-Thames councillor David Silvester had not been a “news story” until he joined Ukip from the Tories.
“I think it is very interesting that, when Mr Silvester was saying these things in 2012 and 2013 as a Conservative town councillor in Henley, it was not a news story,” Mr Farage told an audience in the City.
“But suddenly he switches to Ukip and continues the same thing and gets on the national news.
“I think that shows you and tells you all you need to know.
“The establishment, the status quo, the big businesses, the big Eurocrats and our three so-called main political parties are scared witless by what Ukip is doing because we are striking a chord not just for ordinary people but for many elements in the business community as well.
“They will try to do whatever they can to shoot us down.”
Mr Farage who was speaking in a question-and-answer session in the City on the European Union, said to the media afterwards: “If you accept defectors from the Conservative Party you will always have embarassments.
“Mr Silvester joined us from the Conservatives very recently - he said exactly the same things when he was in the Conservative Party; now he is Ukip you are interested.”
Mr Farage’s remarks were made after Mr Silvester claimed the country had been “beset by storms” since the passage of the new law on gay marriage because David Cameron had acted “arrogantly against the Gospel”.
He was suspended by Ukip after defying a request not to do further interviews on his beliefs following his initial claims made in a letter to a local newspaper.
His suspension came as Mr Farage launched a clearout of “extremist, nasty or barmy” views from the party ahead of polls in May.
Mr Silvester said he had warned the Prime Minister of “repercussions” if gay marriage had gone ahead and told BBC Radio Berkshire that his daily prayers convinced him the recent flooding was the consequence.
He said the new law, paving the way for the first gay marriages in Britain this spring, was the latest mistake which would anger God - following on from abortion laws, which he likened to the Holocaust.
In the radio interview, which followed his initial claims about the link between flooding and gay marriage in a letter to the Henley Standard, Mr Silvester said: “I don’t have a problem with gay people.
“I believe as a Christian I should love gay people, and indeed I do. My prayer for them is they will be healed.”
Mr Silvester said he was convinced that there were “repercussions for a nation persisting in what is wrong”, and that he had clear beliefs “there are things that are right and wrong”.
“Over the years we have done many things that have caused problems,” he said.
“One, for example, is the abortion laws in which something like six million children, as many as the people killed by the Nazis in the death camps, have been killed as a result of the abortion laws.
“Now, this is a process. The latest in this process is these homosexual laws and the homosexual marriage.”
The councillor said Ukip had told him not to give any more interviews.
The party, which initially supported him after his letter to the Henley Standard newspaper, has now used emergency powers to suspend him.
Ukip’s south east chairman, Roger Bird, said: “We cannot have any individual using the Ukip banner to promote their controversial personal beliefs which are not shared by the party.
“Everyone is entitled to their own religious ideology which is central to a free and fair society. Councillor Silvester’s views are his own and in no way reflect the party’s position. Indeed Councillor Silvester himself has clearly stated this.
“However, Councillor Silvester has today acted contrary to party requests and continued to court the media in order to promote his own personal beliefs.
“This has caused significant offence to many people and goes against the core principles of Ukip. It is not fair on the many thousands of hard-working members of Ukip to have one person take attention away from their efforts and successes by promoting their own controversial views despite being requested not to do so.”