Ukip is not racist (but it is xenophobic), says Communities Secretary Eric Pickles

The Conservative minister said the anti-EU party was 'a sort of über-nationalist party'

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has branded Ukip “über-nationalist” and “xenophobic” - but not racist.

The Conservative minster said Nigel Farage’s anti-EU party contains members who have made “racist calculations” but said he does not believe “in my heart” that the party is racist, The Telegraph reported.

Mr Pickles told the newspaper that Ukip is xenophobic and has exploited the public’s fear of immigration in a way that is “shameful”.

“Xenophobia is the fear of anything that’s different, anything that’s unusual, that’s slightly foreign,” he said.

“In a way, they are a sort of über-nationalist party.”

Mr Pickles’ comments came ahead of Mr Farage’s live interview with LBC presenter James O’Brien on Friday, in which he was repeatedly challenged over his attitudes towards immigrants, allegations of racism and his expenses before his director of communications was forced to terminate the discussion.

 

During the interview, Mr Farage insisted there was nothing racist about his position and complained that “all anyone wants to talk about is the idiots in Ukip”.

But he struggled to reconcile his views on immigrants with being married to a German woman and having bilingual children.

Asked about the interview during a campaigning visit to Lancashire, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Mr Farage has done this interview and said frankly some pretty unpleasant things. I just hope people will look at this and recognise that we are an open, tolerant, compassionate country. Yes, we want to sort out the welfare system but we shouldn't put these labels on as Ukip do. It just sends out a terrible message about Britain.”

Mr Pickles said that the best way for the Conservatives to beat Ukip is “to show leadership, show a sense of purpose and show a long-term economic plan”.

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