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Reform UK activist in racism row says he was ‘goaded’ into remarks he regrets

28 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Image courtesy of Channel 4 News of Reform UK activist Andrew Parker who was caught on camera calling Rishi Sunak a racial slur. Photo Channel 4 News/PA Wire

A Reform UK campaigner who was caught on camera calling Rishi Sunak a racial slur has apologised for his remarks but insisted he was “goaded” into making them.

Andrew Parker said “of course” he regrets the language he used but claimed it was just “typical chaps-down-the-pub talk” in “the heat of the moment.”

Mr Parker was recorded by an undercover Channel 4 reporter saying that migrants crossing the English Channel should be used as “target practice” and using a derogatory term to refer to the Prime Minister.

Party leader Nigel Farage subsequently used reports that the canvasser was a part-time actor to suggest the “whole episode does not add up”.

Mr Farage has sought to distance himself from the comments, saying he was “dismayed” by the “appalling sentiments” expressed.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Parker confirmed he worked as an actor but suggested it was separate to the volunteering he had done for the party.

‘Chaps-down-the-pub talk’

He told PA: “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.”

Asked why he had made the remarks, Mr Parker said: “It was in the heat of the moment. I was goaded on.”

He suggested the undercover reporter had been “making jokes and bits and pieces” which were not included in the published footage, but would not expand on what he was claiming the journalist had said.

Channel 4 has said it stands by its “rigorous and duly impartial journalism which speaks for itself”.

Asked whether he would like to apologise for the comments, which were later rebuked by the Prime Minister, he said: “Of course I’m sorry. They were off-the-cuff things that everyone says.”

Mr Parker said he had got involved with Reform by contacting the party offering to do some leafleting because he believed in Mr Farage’s message, but had not mentioned that he was an actor.

Later on Friday, the Prime Minister addressed the canvasser’s remarks directly, saying the slur “hurts and it makes me angry” and that the Reform UK leader has “questions to answer”.

“My two daughters have to see and hear Reform people who campaign for Nigel Farage calling me an effing p***,” Mr Sunak said.

“And 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.”

Mr Farage has previously faced questions over some Reform UK candidates and the party has withdrawn support for several people prior to the General Election after investigations uncovered remarks they had made previously.

But others who have been criticised for their language have retained Reform’s backing, including Leslie Lilley, standing in Southend East and Rochford, who reportedly said he would “slaughter” migrants and “have their families taken out”.

On Thursday, the Reform leader claimed his candidates “in most cases” were “just speaking like ordinary folk”.

He added: “In some cases one or two people let us down and we let them go.”

‘Test of leadership’

Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Farage faced a “test of leadership” over the footage, adding: “You have to ask the question why so many people who are supporting Reform seem to be exposed in this particular way.”

A spokesperson for Channel 4 News said: “We strongly stand by our rigorous and duly impartial journalism which speaks for itself.

“We met Mr Parker for the first time at Reform UK party headquarters, where he was a Reform party canvasser.

“We did not pay the Reform UK canvasser or anyone else in this report. Mr Parker was not known to Channel 4 News and was filmed covertly via the undercover operation.”


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Marc
Marc
16 days ago

Say something racist “no” , go on, “no!” Go on go on go on go on go on! “ ok I’ll do it”

CapM
CapM
16 days ago

It amazing what views some people will express once they’ve assumed that their audience won’t be critical. The Channel Four investigator would just have had do make some “Mmmm” “Oooo” sounds and the subject would have just offloaded probably with relish.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
16 days ago

The racist rhetoric made by Reform UK activist Andrew Parker is nothing new. If you go back far enough to the early days of Ukip & Brexit Party, all had canvassers, candidates and elected council officials with the most disgusting attitudes towards asylum seekers , Asians black people & Muslims. And who did we have making excuses on TV at the time while stating remarks made were not representative of the party. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Nigel Farage. For some reason he has the knack of attracting the most undesirable lowlifes in society.

onedragonontheshirt
onedragonontheshirt
16 days ago

So he’s not a racist, just misunderstood… riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Erisian
Erisian
16 days ago

Oh the poor dear. I was goaded into telling the lady in the fish and chip shop what I wanted. “What can I get you?” she asked with a smile. And just like that … I told her.

Gareth
Gareth
16 days ago

” chaps down the pub talk, the English equivalent of Trump ” locker room talk” and the worst part of it all, when he tries to justify himself with the words ” they were off the cuff things that everyone says”. Not in my circle of friends, they dont think like that , but there again I dont associate with racists or facists.

Accidental Larger Sandpipers
Accidental Larger Sandpipers
15 days ago

Not defending anything he said but … this is the lead item on the national news? Everything’s falling to bits, we’re chucking away billions on bombs, we’re sliding towards World War III, and all the political class wants to do is run around screaming “Look at me! Me Condemn Bad Person! Bad Person Say Naughty Word! Bad Person Offend My Values!”

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