Nigel Farage ‘has questions to answer’ over Reform racism, says Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has said he was hurt and angry to hear a Reform UK canvasser using a racial slur against him, saying Nigel Farage “has some questions to answer”.

The prime minister responded after a Channel 4 undercover investigation found a Reform campaigner had called him a “fucking [P-word]”. Sunak repeated the slur and said he had done so because it was important to call it out for what it was.

His response came as Essex police said they were “urgently assessing” racist and homophobic comments made by Reform campaigners in broadcast footage.

“We are aware of comments made during a Channel 4 News programme and we are urgently assessing them to establish if there are any criminal offences,” a spokesperson said.

On a campaign visit to a school in Teesside, the prime minister told broadcasters: “My two daughters have to see and hear Reform people who campaign for Nigel Farage calling me an effing [P-word]. It hurts and it makes me angry, and I think he has some questions to answer.

“I don’t repeat those words lightly. I do so deliberately, because this is too important not to call out clearly for what it is.”

Asked whether he was frustrated that some former Conservative voters were leaning towards Reform UK when their activists were making racist and homophobic comments, Sunak said: “When you see Reform candidates and campaigners seemingly using racist and misogynistic language and opinion, seemingly without challenge, I think it tells you something about the culture in the Reform party.”

Sunak also responded to Farage’s comments that the misogynist influencer Andrew Tate was an “important voice for men”, which were first reported by the Guardian.

“Andrew Tate isn’t an important voice for men. He’s a vile misogynist. And our politics and country is better than that,” he said. “As prime minister, but more importantly as a father of two young girls, it’s my duty to call out this corrosive and divisive behaviour.”

Reform activists make racist and homophobic comments in Channel 4 undercover footage – video

Keir Starmer said he was “shocked” by the racist and homophobic comments made by the Reform UK canvassers, saying the incident would prove a test of Farage’s leadership.

The comments by Andrew Parker and George Jones were filmed by a reporter while canvassing for Farage in Clacton, where he is running to be MP. Parker was caught on camera calling the prime minister a “fucking [P-word]”, while Jones called the Pride flag “degenerate”.

Channel 4’s report showed Parker telling the reporter, who was posing as an activist: “I’ve always been a Tory voter, but what annoys me is that fucking [P-word] we’ve got in. What good is he? You tell me, you know. He’s just wet. Fucking useless.”

He also advised the reporter to “emphasise ‘illegal’” if discussing migration with minority ethnic voters. Parker went on to call Islam “a cult”, saying: “We’re fucking kicking all the Muslims out of the mosques and turning them into Wetherspoon’s.”

In one doorstep conversation with a voter, Parker suggests shooting asylum seekers arriving in small boats. “You’ve got Deal, haven’t you,” he says, referring to the town in Kent. “The place near Dover. Army recruitment. Get the young recruits there, yeah, with guns on the fucking beach, target practice. Fucking just shoot them.”

Farage said on Friday it was a “complete and utter set-up”, claiming Parker was an actor purporting to be a campaigner to “say vile things” and he had put on an act to undermine the Reform party. He told ITV’s Loose Women Reform had a problem because Farage had “destroyed the BNP [British National party]” and some of their extremist supporters had subsequently tried to join the party.

He said other campaigners whom Channel 4 had recorded making homophobic remarks and other inappropriate comments were “gone” from the party but he also defended them for having been drunk at the time.

Parker told PA Media on Friday he was sorry for the comments. He added: “Of course I regret what I said. I’m old school. Christ, I’m not a racist. I’ve had Muslim girlfriends. It was typical chaps-down-the-pub talk.”

He also insisted he was a Reform supporter, despite Farage casting doubt on his identity because of his career as an actor. He said his acting work was separate to what he did as a volunteer for the party.

In another piece of footage, filmed in a pub in Clacton, Jones saw a police car going past with a Pride flag on its bonnet, and commented: “You see that fucking degenerate flag on the front bonnet? What are the old bill doing promoting that crap? They should be out catching nonces not promoting the fuckers.”

Jones said later: “Our police officers will be paramilitaries, they won’t be police,” and that the party should “bring back the noose”.

Nigel Farage says Reform activist’s comments were ‘prejudiced and wrong’ – video

It is not the first time during the campaign that Reform supporters or candidates have got into trouble for their views on race. Also on Thursday, Reform withdrew support from Raymond Saint, its candidate in Basingstoke, after the Guardian informed the party he had been on a list of members of the BNP.

Earlier this month, Grant StClair-Armstrong, Reform’s candidate in North West Essex, resigned after it was discovered he had previously encouraged people to vote for the BNP.

The Guardian