Godfrey Bloom has been stripped of the UK Independence Party whip after calling women activists “sluts” in an outburst that overshadowed Nigel Farage’s conference speech.
Earlier in the day, Mr Farage promised his party would “cause an earthquake” by winning next year’s European election.
But hours later he was forced to discipline Godfrey Bloom MEP for his outburst at a “women in politics event” at the conference in London.
Asked about his comments, Mr Farage said: “My recommendation is that we now today remove the party whip.”
Sighs and gasps were heard among the conference audience as Ukip chairman Steve Crowther told them that the whip had been withdrawn from Mr Bloom.
Answering questions from the conference platform, Mr Crowther said: “It’s my role to make decisions and sometimes those are popular and sometimes those are unpopular.”
He added: “Godfrey has had a couple of incidents today outside the hall and elsewhere which are now conditioning the media coverage of this conference. So we have done a lot of good work in this hall today and we were driving an extraordinarily positive agenda within the media up until lunchtime today, and that has gone out of the window, I’m afraid.”
Speaking to the conference later, Mr Farage accused Mr Bloom of “destroying” the conference. He said: “There is no media coverage of this conference. It’s gone. It’s dead.
“It’s all about Godfrey hitting a journalist and using an unpleasant word. It’s gone. And we can’t put up with it.”
During the women in politics event, in a reference to previous comments made by Mr Bloom that he was keen to deal with women’s issues because they did not “clean behind the fridge enough”, a Ukip woman could be heard joking: “I, too, have never cleaned behind my fridge.”
Yorkshire and the Humber MEP Mr Bloom is then clearly heard responding: “This place is full of sluts”, in an audio clip of the meeting.
Mr Farage said the 2014 vote would effectively be a referendum on the UK’s future in the European Union.
And he told delegates that they would then go on to claim their first Westminster seats at the 2015 general election.
However, he had earlier warned that Ukip candidates would be subject to smears in the months ahead, and he called on members to provide “strong physical and moral support”.
He criticised “the establishment” for trying to close down the debate on immigration and for suggesting that anyone who discussed it was “bad and racist”.
Promising to put thousands of candidates forward for European and council elections, he said: “In a funny way, the council elections on that day are even more important to Ukip than the European elections themselves.
“This year, we made a great breakthrough on 2 May, getting 23 per cent of the vote across the English counties, and we now hold 227 council seats. I think we’ve got every opportunity on 22 May next year to win hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of council seats up and down this country and
to build up the kind of clusters of support that we’ll need to go on and win seats in the general election of 2015.”
David Cameron’s promise of an in/out EU referendum by 2017 was “a cynical tactic to kick the issue into the long grass”, amid fears of an exodus of his voters to Ukip, he added.
And in a direct appeal to disaffected Tories, he said the 2014 poll gave them a chance “to really express their view without
worrying which lot get in to Downing Street”.
Mr Farage said if “the establishment” took on Ukip on the big issues, it would lose.
“So what they have decided to do is not to go for the ball, but to go for the player,” he added. “I am afraid we will be subject to a whole series of smears running up to next year’s elections and the elections beyond.”
Immigration was “the biggest single issue facing this country”, he said, and only exit from the European Union could prevent it placing further strain on schools, hospitals, housing and wages.
Hundreds of thousands could arrive in the UK from Romania and Bulgaria when transitional free movement restrictions on the new EU members were lifted in January, he predicted, attracted by the right to benefits worth far more than at home.
Mr Farage also warned of an “even darker side to the opening of the door” – pointing to what he said was already a “Romanian crime wave” in London.