Nigel Farage breaks silence on Reform candidates – ‘we have now issues’

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has admitted his party has ‘problems’ when it comes to vetting controversial candidates.

The party has dropped a slew of Reform UK candidates since the election campaign began, over offensive comments unearthed online. Yesterday, Grant StClair-Armstrong was forced to guilt-quit the party after it emerged he had previously encouraged people to vote for the BNP.

Meanwhile, it’s been reported that nearly one in 10 candidates standing for Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party in England are Facebook “friends” with British fascist leader Gary Raikes. Mr Raikes created the New British Union (NBU), which has called for a ‘fascist revolution’ and sees parliamentary democracy as an ‘obstruction’ to establishing a dictatorship.

Now Mr Farage has broken his silence on the controversy marring the party. Appearing on GMB earlier today, Nigel Farage was grilled by presenter Susanna Reid over the social media comments of some of its members. Putting the party leader under pressure, she asked: “How can you defend 41 candidates for your party found to be social media friends with a fascist leader?”

Nigel Farage has broken his silence on the 'problems' his party has

Nigel Farage has broken his silence on the ‘problems’ his party has

In response, Mr Farage said: “Most of our candidates are not political sophisticates. Having said that, like the green party, and like other parties, we’ve had one or two slip through the net that shouldn’t have done.”

The politician then went on to claim that the party paid ‘a very large sum’ to have its candidates’ online profiles vetted, without much success. The Reform UK leader said: “There will be a story coming out at lunchtime today where you will hear that we paid a very large sum of money to a reputable vetting company who didn’t do the work.”

Appearing to dismiss the seriousness of his candidates’ Facebook connection to Gary Raikes, Mr Farage added: “So yes, we’ve got one or two problems but people like each other on Facebook and I’m sorry, I just don’t take that seriously.”

Pointing out that it does not take a vetting company to check who is friends with who on Facebook, Susanna pressed: “So what are you going to do with the 41 candidates? Are you happy with them standing and representing Reform UK?”

Nigel replied: “Nothing. As I say, people like each other on Facebook without knowing who they are liking… people befriend people on Facebook after five seconds.”

Grant StClair-Armstrong sensationally quit yesterday after an unearthed 2010 blog revealed he called for people to to vote for the BNP. The Times reports he posted: “I could weep now, every time I pick up a British newspaper and read the latest about the state of the UK. No doubt, Enoch Powell would be doing the same if he was alive. My solution … vote BNP!”

It comes after Reform UK candidate Ian Gribbin was forcred to apologised for claiming that Britain should have “taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality” instead of fighting the Nazis during the Second World War.

Ian Gribbin, who is standing for the right-wing party in Bexhill and Battle, in East Sussex, also branded Winston Churchill as “abysmal” and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin in series of online rants obtained by the BBC. In posts on the Unherd website in 2022, Mr Gribbin also said women were the “sponging gender” and should be “deprived of healthcare”.

Mr Gribbin said: “I apologise for these old comments and withdraw them unreservedly. I further apologise for the upset that they have caused. I myself am upset at the way these comments were taken out of context especially when my mother was the daughter of Russian Jews fleeing persecution.”