We give money to Africa to stop 'them' coming here, says Cameron
Talk of 'bongo bongo land' is offensive says PM - before explaining his line on foreign aid with unexpected clarity
DAVID CAMERON today appealed to traditional Tory voters who share the views of Godfrey 'Bongo Bongo' Bloom by admitting that there is a pragmatic reason for pouring billions of pounds into overseas aid when the rest of the UK budget is subjected to slash-and-burn austerity cuts. It's intended to stop "them" - Africans - turning up "here" - in Britain - as illegal immigrants.
In his first major interview since returning from holiday, the Prime Minister was asked on BBC Breakfast what he would say to the Tory voters who supported the views of Bloom, the UKIP MEP who caused outrage yesterday when he refused to apologise for remarks he had made to party activists, caught on film and leaked to The Guardian.
The clip of his speech showed him attacking UK hand-outs to "bongo bongo land" where, he said, the money would only be used to purchase Ferraris and sunglasses.
Cameron said Bloom's views - which the MEP was able to repeat on Radio 4's Today programme yesterday - were "offensive". But then the Prime Minister admitted that his foreign aid policy was motivated by "self-interest".
Cameron said: "If we can invest in these countries - for example, Somalia - we can stop most immigration and stop them ending up on our shores. Why not stop these problems at source by investing in these countries rather than having them turn up here?"
The PM was, of course, trying to perform a tricky balancing act: seeking on the one hand to say that nice Tories don't talk about "bongo bongo land", while at the same time acknowledging that a lot of Conservatives are tempted by UKIP just because they agree absolutely with the substance of Bloom's argument if not his language.
As The Independent columnist Steve Richards writes today, "A lot of Tory voters agree... that overseas aid is a waste of money. Perhaps some Tory voters might enjoy Bloom's tone, too, and the unrepentant interview he gave [to the Today programme]."
Polls suggest that a growing number of Tories are opposed to the aid budget.
And as for how many Conservatives are quitting the party for UKIP, there's a hint of the size of problem from the Tory donor, Lord Ashcroft. He has tweeted this morning: "We still have not received the membership numbers for the Conservative Party. Sadly I suspect it's really bad."
Steve Richards believes that, in the longer term, the views of UKIP eccentrics like Bloom will not help the party: voters expect a more professional display from a party's leading figures.
On the other hand, "The resolute insularity of parts of England, unwilling to face the consequences of an increasingly interdependent world, is a factor in every leader's calculations, not least when these voters now have a party that speaks for them."
Hence Cameron's pragmatic approach to immigration this morning.
The PM also offered a couple of other headline-grabbing remarks to show the British public that, after his shorts-and-sandals break, he's back in charge of the country.
He called for a boycott of websites such as Ask.fm until they have "cleaned up their act" after the case of Hannah Smith, 14, who killed herself following personal abuse by internet "trolls" on the website.
He also responded to Labour's planned autumn offensive over falling living standards by hinting that he will give a pre-election boost of more tax cuts. "I'm going to be looking absolutely for what more we can do to help families with the cost of living. I think it is absolutely a huge issue for families up and down the country."
As Paul Waugh, editor of Politicshome, tweeted: "Cam's tax cut hint on cost of living, after fuel duty escalator/council tax freeze, suggests interesting 2014 Budget." ·