Ukip leader's girlfriend suspended after 'racist' Meghan Merkle remarks

Henry Bolton’s girlfriend Jo Marney suspended after reportedly making offensive comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee

Henry Bolton




Henry Bolton’s relationship with Jo Marney is under investigation by the party.
Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Ukip leader’s girlfriend suspended after ‘racist’ Meghan Markle remarks

Henry Bolton’s girlfriend Jo Marney suspended after reportedly making offensive comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee

The girlfriend of the Ukip leader, Henry Bolton, has been suspended from the party after reportedly making racist remarks about Meghan Markle.

Jo Marney, 25, sent a series of messages to a friend in which she made highly offensive comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee and black people, according to the Mail on Sunday.

In a statement to the paper, Marney said she apologised “unreservedly” for the “shocking language” used in the messages, but said they had been taken out of context.

Bolton, 54, whose relationship with Marney is under investigation by the party, said on Sunday she had been suspended “immediately upon us receiving this information”.

The Ukip leader sent the message in reply to a young party member who urged him to call publicly for Marney to have her membership removed.

“She has to go or he and Ukip are doomed if we let this behaviour happen in the party,” the activist said.

Peter Whittle, the leader of Ukip’s delegation in the London Assembly, also called for Marney to be “expelled altogether” for the “disgraceful remarks”.

Meanwhile, the former Ukip leadership candidate Ben Walker called for Bolton to resign, accusing him of having “deeply flawed judgment”.

The party chairman, Paul Oakden, said he decided to suspend Marney’s party membership immediately after he was made aware of the messages. “Ukip does not, has not and never will condone racism,” he told the Mail on Sunday.

The report of Marney’s use of highly offensive language about people from different ethnic backgrounds came as Bolton faces an investigation into his private life by senior party officials.

Bolton left his wife Tatiana, 42, who gave birth to their second daughter at London’s St Pancras station in 2016 after going into labour on a train, before his relationship with Marney became public in early January.

The Ukip leader confirmed that he had a “change in my relationship status” in recent weeks, although he denied reports that he had involved “a clandestine affair with a young lady who happens also to be a member of Ukip”.

He said he had already made clear on social media that he had recently been spending time “with somebody who has become increasingly important to me”.

On Sunday, he was accused on Twitter of being in Marney’s company when he appeared on television in mid-October. He tweeted: “Utterly false! Photo taken by Gawain Towler (Ukip communications official). The woman just in shot is a BBC staffer.”

In a letter to members, Oakden said the party’s national executive committee ruling body agreed to discuss the leader’s private life at a special meeting in January.

On Sunday, a teenage activist called on Bolton to back calls for Marney to be expelled from Ukip.

He tweeted: “If Henry Bolton truly cares about UKIP he will publicly call for Jo Marney removal from the party – her words were blatantly racist and there should be no room for that in UKIP.

“Also it would be hypocritical to allow her to stay … because he said in the leadership election he was the candidate against racism and nazis so she has to go or he and UKIP are doomed if we let this behaviour happen in the party.”

“Jo was suspended immediately upon us receiving this information,” Bolton tweeted in reply.

“The opinions I expressed were deliberately exaggerated in order to make a point and have, to an extent, been taken out of context. Yet I fully recognise the offence they have caused,” Marney said in a statement.

On her Twitter profile, Marney describes herself as a model, actor and journalist, as well as a Brexiteer.

Bolton was elected Ukip leader last September.

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