'Bongo Bongo Land': MEP Godfrey Bloom Sorry

'Bongo Bongo Land': MEP Godfrey Bloom Sorry

A UK Independence Party politician has issued a public apology after saying Britain should not send foreign aid to "bongo bongo land".

In a statement, MEP Godfrey Bloom said he regretted any offence or embarrassment caused by the remark.

He said: "At a public speech in the West Midlands in early July I used a term which I subsequently gather under certain circumstances could be interpreted as pejorative to individuals and possibly cause offence.

"Although quite clearly no such personal usage was intended, I understand from UKIP party chairman Steve Crowther and leader Nigel Farage that I must not use the terminology in the future, nor will I and sincerely regret any genuine offence which might have been caused or embarrassment to my colleagues.

"My aim, successful as it appears, was to demonstrate the immorality of sending £1bn per month abroad when we are desperately short of money here."

It comes just hours after the MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire told Sky News he did not regret the words he used and insisted he had sparked a vital debate about foreign aid.

He told Sky: "Out here in Hull and Yorkshire, where we tell it like it is, they don't feel it's racist at all.

"How can you get yourself into such a state about something which doesn't even exist? There is no such country so how can anyone be offended."

He added: "It would be disingenuous of me to regret having said it having got this debate going ... If I've achieved that, I think I have done my country some good."

Mr Bloom was filmed questioning the payments in a speech in July, as well as appearing to back the return of hanging.

"How we can possibly be giving a billion pounds a month, when we're in this sort of debt, to bongo bongo land is completely beyond me," he said in the video.

"To buy Ray-Ban sunglasses, apartments in Paris, Ferraris and all the rest of it that goes with most of the foreign aid. F-18s for Pakistan.

"We need a new squadron of F-18s. Who's got the squadrons? Pakistan, where we send the money."

Later in the speech, Mr Bloom railed against the European Court of Human Rights for ruling that full life sentences could not be handed down.

He said: "You can torture people to death, but you jolly well can't give them a full life sentence because that's against their human rights.

"We can't hang them because we're now a member of the European Union and it's embedded in the Treaty of Rome. It's a personal thing, but I'd hang the b******* myself."

He added: "I do hope they would ask me to throw the rope over the beam because I'd be delighted to do so."

Mr Bloom denied to The Guardian, which obtained the video, that his comments were racist and declared: "What's wrong with that? I'm not a wishy-washy Tory."

But he was later asked by UKIP not to repeat the words "bongo bongo" to avoid causing offence.

Party chairman Steve Crowther said: "We are asking Godfrey not to use this phrase again as it might be considered disparaging by members from other countries.

"However, foreign aid is an extremely important debate that needs wider discussion."

Laura Pidcock, from campaign group Show Racism The Red Card, called the comments "highly offensive" and said the intention behind them was irrelevant.

"These crude stereotypes that see Britain as a civilised place and overseas as tribal is an extremely homogenising sentiment and I think it's incredibly damaging," she said.

Shadow international development secretary Rushanara Ali added: "These are an offensive and narrow-minded set of remarks.

"The British are among the most generous in the world and recognise that Britain's commitment to international development is both morally right and key to securing our future prosperity.

"If Nigel Farage is serious about getting rid of racism and intolerance in his party, he should take action against UKIP politicians who think it's acceptable to refer to developing countries as bongo bongo land."

Mr Bloom has previously had to defend his controversial views after suggesting that no "self-respecting small businessman" would employ a "woman of child-bearing age".

In April, a leaked email from the MEP also suggested he was concerned about excessive "political correctness" among new recruits to UKIP.

And he had complained that forging UKIP's policy platform was like "herding cats" and suggested the party could buy its policies "off the shelf" from think-tanks.

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