Ukip leader’s girlfriend sent ‘racist’ Meghan Markle messages

The leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) faced calls to resign after his girlfriend reportedly made racist remarks about Prince Harry's fiancee Meghan Markle. Picture: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty
The leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) faced calls to resign after his girlfriend reportedly made racist remarks about Prince Harry's fiancee Meghan Markle. Picture: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty
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Ukip leader Henry Bolton is facing calls to resign after his girlfriend reportedly made racist remarks about Meghan Markle.

• READ MORE: Ukip leader starts relationship with 25-year-old Brexit-supporting model

Henry Bolton, who was elected in September, said his 25-year-old partner Jo Marney had been suspended from the anti-EU, anti-immigration party after the text messages. Picture: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty

Henry Bolton, who was elected in September, said his 25-year-old partner Jo Marney had been suspended from the anti-EU, anti-immigration party after the text messages. Picture: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty

Mr Bolton’s 25-year-old partner Jo Marney sent a series of messages to a friend in which she made highly offensive comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee and black people, the Mail on Sunday said.

The 54-year-old party leader, whose relationship with Ms Marney is under investigation by the party, said on Sunday that she had been suspended “immediately upon us receiving this information”.

He is now facing calls to step down, with Ukip West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge telling him: “Go now. Go quietly and leave us to deal with what’s left.”

In a Facebook video message Mr Etheridge said: “It appears that we are now seeing Ukip resources, which are at best scant, being used to defend Henry’s private life.”

He said he would step down as a Ukip spokesman if Mr Bolton, who was elected leader last September, “insists on prolonging this agony”.

Fellow former Ukip leadership candidate Ben Walker also called for Mr Bolton to resign, accusing him of having “deeply flawed judgement”.

The Mail on Sunday printed texts it said had been sent by Ms Marney, including use of the word “Negro” and a message reading “This is Britain, not Africa” during a discussion about the royal engagement.

In a statement Ms Marney said: “The opinions I expressed were deliberately exaggerated in order to make a point and have, to an extent, been taken out of context. Yet I fully recognise the offence they have caused.”

Mr Bolton replied to a young party member online who urged him to publicly call for Ms Marney to have her membership removed.

“She has to go or he and @UKIP are doomed if we let this behaviour happen in the party,” the teenage activist said.

In replying Mr Bolton tweeted: “Jo was suspended immediately upon us receiving this information.”

Peter Whittle, leader of Ukip’s delegation in the London Assembly, also called for Ms Marney to be “expelled altogether” for the “disgraceful remarks”.

Party chairman Paul Oakden said he decided to suspend Ms Marney’s party membership immediately after he was made aware of the messages.

“Ukip does not, has not and never will condone racism,” he told the Mail on Sunday.

• READ MORE: Ukip to examine leader Henry Bolton’s private life following split with wife

The report of Ms Marney’s use of highly offensive language about people from different ethnic backgrounds comes as Mr Bolton faces an investigation into his controversial private life by senior party officials.

Mr Bolton left wife Tatiana, 42, who gave birth to their second daughter at London’s St Pancras station in 2016 after going into labour on a train, prior to his relationship with Ms Marney becoming public in early January.

The Ukip leader confirmed that he had a “change in my relationship status” in recent weeks, although he denied reports that it had involved “a clandestine affair with a young lady who happens also to be a member of Ukip”.

In a letter to members, Mr Oakden said the National Executive Committee ruling body agreed to discuss the leader’s private life at a special meeting in January.

On her Twitter profile Ms Marney describes herself as a model, actor and journalist, as well as a Brexiteer.

Independent MEP Steven Woolfe, a former Ukip member, said certain views had been allowed to “rise” within the party.

He told Sky’s Sunday with Niall Paterson: “They were not there whilst we had a balanced, intelligent debate within the party.

• READ MORE: UKIP elects new leader: ‘We are not UK Nazi party’

“They need to sort themselves out if they want to be a radical party that can move. At the moment they are nowhere near it.”

Mr Oakden said Mr Bolton now finds himself with a “difficult” decision to make and is expected to decide on Sunday what to do to “help remedy the situation”.

He told BBC’s Sunday Politics: “I think it is very clear that Henry is increasingly in a position where he’s got some difficult decisions to make.”

Mr Oakden, who declined to give his own views on Mr Bolton’s current situation, said the party needs to be “behind our leader 100% in taking that battle (for Brexit) forward”.

He said: “Whether or not the party decides it is willing to give that support to Henry is for the party to decide.”

The party’s National Executive Committee will meet next Sunday.

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