Nigel Farage defends outspoken Polish MEP as 'saving' Ukip

MEP Robert Iwaszkiewicz joined EFDD after a Latvian MEP left last week

Nigel Farage dubbed his newest European Parliament group recruit a saviour despite the Polish MEP Robert Iwaszkiewicz having made a flippant remark about Hitler and domestic violence.

The Ukip leader's eurosceptic bloc, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, collapsed on Thursday with the departure of Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule.

As groups need MEPs from seven different EU countries to operate legitimately, the EFDD group was at risk of missing out on £1 million in funding and the chance to make speeches on the parliament floor until Mr Iwaszkiewicz joined the group yesterday.

The right-wing MEP, from the Congress of the New Right (KNP), said that beating women "helps bring wives back to Earth" but dismissed his public remarks as "ironic" and not to be taken literally.

Speaking from Strasbourg today to Radio 4, Mr Farage said: “I think that particular comment was a joke – I have found nothing in this guy’s background to suggest he is a political extremist at all – he has joined our group to save us.”

He also mentioned that he has yet to meet or speak to Mr Iwaszkiewicz.

Mr Farage added: “Do we cast Ukip into the outer darkness of an unattached group? Or do a deal with a known prominent extremist in Europe? I would not do that deal."

Robert Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz is a member of the Polish party Congress of the New Right (KNP)

KNP founder Janusz Korwin-Mikke was fined last month for using racist language at a debate. He has also caused outrage with comments on the Holocaust and disagreeing with women's right to vote.

He also reportedly claimed that Hitler would be acquitted from court today as he probably had no idea that the Nazis were waging atrocities on Jewish people across Europe.

A Polish journalist said of the KNP: "It is formed by gentlemen whose views even in Poland are considered very strange."

Ukip - which makes up half of EFDD with 24 out of 48 members, accused "federalist" parties of pressuring speaker Ms Grigule to leave the group, but these allegations have been denied.

Ms Grigule said she left EFDD as she disagreed with Mr Farage's overpowering leadership and the mistreatment of the group by parliamentary authorities.