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Reform UK leader tells party not to use social media drunk after candidates accused of racist tweets

Richard Tice comapred vetting candidates to an MOT: ‘It’s valid the day you do it’

David Hughes
Monday 08 April 2024 14:35 BST
Reform Party leader Richard Tice (PA)
Reform Party leader Richard Tice (PA) (PA Wire)

The leader of Reform UK has warned his candidates not to use social media after drinking alcohol, to avoid posting “inappropriate” comments.

The party has ditched seven candidates for the upcoming election following complaints about their social media posts.

Mr Tice said every party has their share of “morons” but added that he is committed to kicking them out quickly.

At a press conference in London, he said: “We’re very clear to all our candidates, for heaven’s sake if you’re going to have a glass on a Friday night then don’t use social media.

“It’s not sensible, if someone lets us down hereafter, then frankly if it is inappropriate, if it is unacceptable, then we’re going to part company.

“So you can have your freedom of speech, your freedom of expression, that doesn’t mean you have the right to represent Reform UK as a parliamentary candidate, because that’s our choice.”

Campaign group Hope Not Hate found tweets by candidates Jonathan Kay and Mick Greenhough in which they made derogatory comments about Muslims and Black people.

Mr Kay, who was standing for election in South Ribble, tweeted in 2019 that Muslims “never coexist with others” and should be deported, and claimed Africans had IQs “among the lowest in the world”.

Mr Greenhough, who was the Reform candidate in Orpington, tweeted in 2023 that “the only solution” was to “remove the Muslims from our territory” and in 2019 said Ashkenazi Jews were a “problem” and had “caused the world massive misery”.

Hope Not Hate, which campaigns against the far right, said the pair were “wildly unsuitable for public office”.

Both men were removed as Reform candidates, following the publication of Hope Not Hate’s findings last week.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage is Reform UK’s honorary president (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Tice said “We’re not happy for candidates to hold these views, but it’s when they get expressed is obviously when you know about it.

“And that’s how we find out about it. So look, I’m being slightly cheeky in using that as an analogy but the reality is if someone holds and expresses inappropriate views we’re not going to tolerate it and we’re going to make the fastest decisions of anyone.”

The party has also drawn criticism over some of its other candidates, including a convicted animal abuser and a fortune-teller who sold spells for £200 on the OnlyFans website.

Mr Tice said that any organisation of more than 600 people is going to lose 1% or 2% for doing “something daft”.

He said: “Every party has their share frankly of muppets and morons, you’ve seen it with the sexual weirdos going on in the Tory Party, we’ve seen it with the antisemitism in the Labour Party and George Galloway’s party.”

Mr Tice added: “The thing about vetting is it’s like an MOT actually, it’s valid the day you do it.

“But the following Friday night, someone has a glass or two too much and puts something out on social media that they then permanently regret, so in a sense it never stops.

“When someone does something that is completely wrong and inappropriate, we’re the fastest to sort it out and frankly kick them out.”

Benjamin “Beau” Dade was dropped as candidate for Swindon South following a similar investigation by Hope Not Hate; while Ginny Ball in Rutland and Stamford; Nick Davies in North East Bedfordshire; David Carpin in Henley and Thame; and Roger Hoe in Beverley and Holderness, have all been sacked for comments made on social media.

During the conference, Mr Tice targeted Labour in a pitch for voters in the so-called Red Wall.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, during a visit to Kings Mill Hospital (Jacob King/PA Wire)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hopes to win back seats in his party’s former northern heartlands, which were lost to the Tories in Boris Johnson’s 2019 landslide.

But Mr Tice hopes Brexit-voting constituents could be persuaded to switch from the Conservatives to Reform, rather than backing Labour.

He said: “We are now actually polling the highest amongst Brexiteers across the whole of the UK. We’re above the Tories in the North, equal in the Midlands, so we’re making huge strides.”

He said the country was “completely and utterly broken” after 14 years of Tory rule.

But he accused Labour of betraying working-class voters in favour of a “woke” agenda, adding: “That’s the reality of what they’re doing. They no longer care, they have no plans, they have no solutions.

“All they’re focused on, frankly, are the woke, managerial middle class who happen to be eco-zealots.”

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