UK PM Sunak slams racist slur by Farage party campaigner

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage suggested the situation was fabricated by political opponents (HENRY NICHOLLS)
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage suggested the situation was fabricated by political opponents (HENRY NICHOLLS)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday denounced the use of a racist slur against him by an anti-immigration Reform UK party campaigner, as the general election campaign entered its final week.

An undercover investigation by Channel 4 filmed campaigners making racist, homophobic and offensive comments in Clacton-on-Sea, eastern England, where Reform UK leader Nigel Farage is hoping to be elected as an MP next Thursday.

One canvasser was heard using the racist slur about British-Indian Sunak, a practising Hindu and Britain's first prime minister of colour.

The supporter also described Islam as "the most disgusting cult" and called for Muslims to be kicked "out of mosques" and their places of worship turned into pubs.

Farage, who campaigned as a European parliamentarian for Britain to leave the European Union and now wants a freeze on immigration, called the comments a "complete and total set-up".

He suggested the canvasser, Andrew Parker, who was leafleting in Clacton last week, may have been paid to act in the video, possibly by opponents threatened by the party's popularity.

Parker said that he was a part-time actor and that he campaigned for Reform in a personal capacity.

But Sunak said: "My two daughters have to see and hear Reform people who campaign for Nigel Farage calling me an effing Paki.

"It hurts and it makes me angry, and I think he has some questions to answer. And I don't repeat those words lightly.

"I do so deliberately, because this is too important not to call out clearly for what it is."

Channel 4 denied Farage's claims of fabrication.

"We met Mr Parker for the first time at Reform UK party headquarters, where he was a Reform party canvasser," it said.

- Test -

The hard-right Farage making an eighth bid to win a seat in parliament has faced a number of controversies since the campaign began.

A string of Reform UK candidates have been ditched or suspended over allegations of offensive comments.

According to the anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate, Reform UK has had to withdraw 166 candidates since the beginning of the year, many of whom have made racist or offensive remarks.

Last week, Farage caused outrage by saying in a BBC interview that the West had "provoked" Russia into invading Ukraine because of Kyiv's aim of joining NATO and the European Union.

The latest scandal met cross-party condemnation.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is tipped to replace Sunak as prime minister, said he was "shocked" by the footage and that Farage faces a "test of leadership".

Farage has already faced criticism for saying Sunak, who was educated at a  top private school and studied at Oxford University, does not "understand our culture".

That followed condemnation of the premier leaving early from D-Day commemorations in France.

A new poll published by the Labour supporting Mirror newspaper on Friday put Sunak's Conservatives on 18 percent, with Reform on 21 percent, both well behind Labour on 38 percent.

Support for Reform could split the right-wing vote, handing Labour a landslide, analysts say.

- Dismissed -

Farage has given various reasons when probed on the number of dismissals from Reform UK, including blaming the vetting company his party hired to scrutinise potential candidates.

In the Channel 4 report, Parker is heard calling for new army recruits to carry out "target practice" by shooting undocumented migrants trying to cross the Channel from France in small boats.

George Jones, a Reform UK events organiser, was filmed making homophobic remarks including describing the LGBTQ flag as "degenerate".

Police said they were "urgently assessing" the comments to "establish if there are any criminal offences".

Parker called the comments "typical chaps-down-the-pub talk". "I'm not racist, I've had Muslim girlfriends," he told the Press Association news agency.

Farage said while the comments were "crass" and "vulgar", Jones was "drunk" at a pub after watching an England football match, adding that "people when they're drunk often turn quite nasty".

The campaigners have been dismissed, according to Reform.