Senior Ukip MEP and financial services spokesman Godfrey Bloom has issued an apology for any offence caused by his “bongo bongo land” remarks, after earlier in the day stating he had no regrets about the comments which have caused a media storm.
Last night, the Guardian reported that the MEP, a former IFA and member of the influential European economic and monetary affairs committee, had told a party meeting in the West Midlands that the UK should not send aid to ”bongo bongo land” where it is then spent on Ferraris, Ray-Ban sunglasses and apartments in Paris.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage has previously hit out at MEPs for using the term ”bongo bongo land”. Ukip has asked Bloom not to use the term again but he insists he will not resign and will stand again in the 2014 elections.
Speaking to Fundweb sister title Money Marketing this morning, Bloom says: “I never apolgise and I have got nothing to apologise for. I will comply, if the party chairman does not want me to use that expression then I won’t. What did I say that was wrong? Did I say anything that was wrong? I’m happy not to say [bongo bongo land] again but I’m not apologising.
”I have no regrets. Good lord, no, I’ve never done so much radio and television in my life. The messages of support I have been getting are overwhelming. Almost everyone, except political opponents, agree with me. Ordinary working people in Yorkshire agree with me.”
He adds: ”It’s been fascinating and I’m absolutely delighted because everyone is talking about the billion pounds a month we are sending abroad when I have got people in my constituency waiting for cancer treatment and dialysis machines because we can’t afford it.
”We are cutting the police force and cutting defence, we ’re closing down accident and emergency wings of our hospitals. It’s £1bn a month with £400m going to the EU with no audit trail.”
However, in a statement released on his website this afternoon, Bloom says: ”I used a term which I subsequently gather under certain circumstances could be interpreted as pejorative to individuals and possibly cause offence.
”Although quite clearly no such personal usage was intended, I understand from Ukip party chairman Steve Crowther and leader Nigel Farage that I must not use the terminology in the future, nor will I and sincerely regret any genuine offence which might have been caused or embarrassment to my colleagues.”
Bloom has a responsibility for helping put together the party’s financial services policies and recently drew up a number of tax proposals with University of Georgia economics professor David Kamerschen that were put to Ukip’s national executive committee.