Ukip is 'not a racist party' says Conservative minister

May 17, 2014

Eric Pickles says Farage's party is simply 'xenophobic' and nationalist

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Ukip is not a racist party, says a senior Conservative minister. Community secretary Eric Pickles says Nigel Farage’s party is “über-nationalist” and “xenophobic”, but adds that he does not believe “in my heart” that it is racist.

Pickles tells the Daily Telegraph that Farage has played on people’s fear of immigration in a “shameful” way and agrees that Ukip contains members who have made “racist calculations”.

However, he says that the party as a whole is xenophobic rather than racist. “Xenophobia is the fear of anything that’s different, anything that’s unusual, that’s slightly foreign,” he argues.

His comments came on the same day that Farage endured a testing radio interview during which he was accused of heading a “divisive” and “racist” party.

The Ukip leader had previously said that hearing foreign languages on public transport makes him feel “uncomfortable”. LBC presenter James O’Brien asked Farage whether that applied to his German-speaking wife.

Ukip director of communications Patrick O’Flynn tried to haul Farage off air as he was challenged about his party’s expenses. The radio interview has been described as a “car crash” for Farage, with some commentators speculating it might end his political career.

As pressure grows on Ukip, David Cameron says Farage’s comments were “unpleasant” and warned that voting for Ukip would send “a terrible message about Britain”.

Ed Miliband vowed that Labour would “never again turn our backs” on people who are concerned about immigration.

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