Farage claims ‘bad apples are gone’ from Reform UK amid racism row

Nigel Farage has insisted “the bad apples are gone” from Reform UK after facing accusations from across the political divide that he failed to show leadership over allegations of racism within the party.

Mr Farage said he would “never have them back” following the withdrawal of support for three candidates over the row that has engulfed the party over the final week of General Election campaigning.

Speaking at a Reform rally in Birmingham on Sunday, he also claimed that footage of a canvasser using a racial slur against Rishi Sunak had been used as a “smear campaign” against the party.

Campaigners for Reform in the Clacton seat Mr Farage hopes to win in Essex were recorded by an undercover journalist from Channel 4 making racist comments, including about the Prime Minister, who is of Indian descent.

The footage showed canvasser Andrew Parker using a slur about Mr Sunak and suggesting migrants arriving in the UK on small boats should be used as “target practice”.

Another activist described the Pride flag as “degenerate” and suggested members of the LGBT community are paedophiles.

Addressing an audience of thousands on Sunday, Mr Farage said: “Look, Reform is a new organisation. It’s a start-up and there were requests put out for candidates to stand.

“Have we had a few bad apples? We have, although to my knowledge nobody involved in an organised betting ring is standing for us, which is something.”

He added: “I have to say, the bad apples are gone. We’ll never have them back.”

Mr Farage has suggested that Mr Parker, who is an actor, was used as a “plant” by Channel 4 in their undercover investigation into his campaign – a claim the broadcaster strenuously denies.

Mr Parker has told the PA news agency that his acting work is separate from his volunteering for Reform UK, which he said he started doing of his own volition because he believed in the party’s message.

He has apologised for the remarks, which he said he was “goaded” into making.

Meanwhile, Reform has confirmed it has dropped support for candidates Leslie Lilley in Southend East and Rochford; Edward Oakenfull in Derbyshire Dales; and Robert Lomas in Barnsley North.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he shared Mr Sunak’s “disgust” at the use of the slur, which the Prime Minister has condemned as “vile” and “racist”.

Channel 4 hit back at the claims Mr Parker was a paid actor, with a spokesperson for the broadcaster saying: “We met Mr Parker for the first time at Reform UK party headquarters, where he was a Reform party canvasser.”

Mr Farage also claimed the audience on BBC’s Question Time on Friday, during which he was questioned about his party’s supporters, “was rigged”, which the BBC denies.

Addressing supporters at Sunday’s rally, the Reform leader said his party would campaign to abolish the TV licence fee as “the leading voice of opposition” because it had “abused its position of power.”

“I say that because the Conservative Party will be in opposition but they won’t be the Opposition because they disagree with each other on virtually everything – think about it, the last four years all we’ve had are internal Tory wars,” he told the crowd.

“They stand for nothing. I was told they were a broad church. Well they’re a broad church without any religion.

“It simply doesn’t work. So we will again renew our campaign with added vigour to say that the state broadcaster has abused its position of power and we will campaign for the abolition of the BBC licence fee.”

In response to applause from the audience, Mr Farage said: “Wow, that’s popular. You like that don’t you? You like that don’t you?”

He launched direct attacks against both Mr Sunak and Sir Keir, branding the Prime Minister “slippery Sunak, the biggest spinner since Blair” and saying the Labour leader had “the charisma of a damp rag”.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Farage denied “fanning the flames of prejudice” during an appearance on Sky News.

He also suggested that people who had been attracted by the British National Party (BNP) would gravitate in the direction of his party because they no longer had a home to go to.

“Ironically, destroying the BNP means people who are minded that way don’t any longer have a home to go to, and so some will gravitate in our direction and (when) we find out who they are they’ll be gone.”