'Go now': West Midlands Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge calls on party leader Henry Bolton to quit in fallout over girlfriend's 'racist' remarks - with VIDEO
West Midlands Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge today called on party leader Henry Bolton to quit after the party suspended Mr Bolton's girlfriend after she reportedly made racist remarks about Prince Harry's fiancee Meghan Markle.
Mr Etheridge said he was not passing judgement on 54-year-old Mr Bolton's private life but on his professional performance.
Mr Bolton' girlfriend, Jo Marney, 25, sent a series of messages to a friend in which she made highly offensive comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee and black people, according the Mail on Sunday.
In them, the model said Miss Markle would "taint" the Royal Family, that she had a "tiny brain" and that black people were ugly.
In a statement to the paper, Ms Marney said she apologised “unreservedly” for the “shocking language” used in the messages, but said they had been “taken out of context”.
Mr Etheridge said that Mr Bolton should "go now", adding: "His lack of experience in politics has got the better of him."
Watch Mr Etheridge's video statement below:
The MEP said: "For some time now it has appeared that Henry Bolton and the story he is giving - not just about the personal issues, but about his dealings with other members of the party, about some of the things he said during the leadership election - it would appear there are inconsistencies.
Mr Etheridge said he had not voted for Mr Bolton in the leadership election but had been prepared to support him when he won it.
But he said Mr Bolton's "lack of experience in politics has got the better of him", that Ukip resources were being used to defend Mr Bolton's private life and many decisions were being taken without any consultation.
"Laughing off the problems of recent times is simply not good enough," he said, adding: "This party has gone through hell the last 18 months."
"It is quite apparent that he does not have the experience, the nous, or the correct advice to deal with the issues that he faces.
"This is entirely based on his professional performance, not his private life.
"The time has come for Henry Bolton to resign as leader of Ukip. He must go quickly, he must go quietly, as soon as possible.
"I hope he manages to salvage some personal life from all of this mess but the rest of us all need to step forward to salvage a future for our party and for our country."
"Henry," he added: "Go now."
Mr Bolton, 54, whose relationship with Ms Marney is under investigation by the party, said today that she had been suspended “immediately upon us receiving this information”.
The Ukip leader sent the message in reply to a young party member 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.
Peter Whittle, leader of Ukip’s delegation in the London Assembly, also called for Ms Marney to be “expelled altogether” for the “disgraceful remarks”.
Meanwhile former Ukip leadership candidate Ben Walker called for Mr Bolton to resign, accusing him of having “deeply flawed judgement”.
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.
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 denied reports that is had involved “a clandestine affair with a young lady who happens also to be a member of Ukip”.
He said he had already made clear on social media that he had recently been spending time “with somebody who has become increasingly important to me”.
On Sunday he was accused on Twitter of being in Ms Marney’s company when he appeared on television in mid-October.
He tweeted: “Utterly false! Photo taken by Gawain Towler (Ukip communications official). The woman just in shot is a BBC staffer.”
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 Sunday a teenage activist called on Mr Bolton to back calls for Ms Marney to be expelled from Ukip.
“If @_HenryBolton truly cares about @UKIP he will publicly call for Jo Marney removal from the party her words were blatantly racist and there should be no room for that in UKIP,” the young party member said.
“Also it would be hypocritical to allow her to stay… because he said in the leadership election he was the candidate against racism and nazis so she has to go or he and @UKIP are doomed if we let this behaviour happen in the party.”
“Jo was suspended immediately upon us receiving this information,” Mr Bolton tweeted in reply.
“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,” Ms Marney said in a statement.
On her Twitter profile Ms Marney describes herself as a model, actor and journalist, as well as a Brexiteer.
Mr Bolton was elected Ukip leader last September.