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MEP in foreign aid quotes row apologises
9:00am Friday 16th August 2013 in Keighley
A UK Independence Party Euro MP whose constituency includes Keighley has voiced his regret after a comment he made during a speech caused a storm of protest.
Godfrey Bloom, an MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, came under fire when it emerged he had questioned the use of foreign aid cash in “bongo bongo land”.
He has since apologised for the language, which he used during a public speech in the West Midlands last month.
Video footage showed the MEP say: “How we can possibly be giving a billion pounds a month, when we’re in this sort of debt, to bongo bongo land is completely beyond me.
“To buy Ray-Ban sunglasses, apartments in Paris, Ferraris and all the rest of it that goes with most of the foreign aid. F18s for Pakistan. We need a new squadron of F18s. Who’s got the squadrons? Pakistan, where we send the money.”
Mr Bloom initially defended himself during national media interviews, but later said he regretted his words.
He added: “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.
“My aim, successful as it appears, was to demonstrate the immorality of sending £1 billion per month abroad when we are desperately short of money here.
“My constituents come first and always will – they put me here to speak for them.”
Mr Crowther said: “We are asking Godfrey not to use this phrase again as it might be considered disparaging by members from other countries. However, foreign aid is an extremely important debate that needs wider discussion.”
Labour’s local MEP Linda McAvan and Tory Timothy Kirkhope both condemned the comment.
“UKIP has now got to make it clear where it stands or become a pariah party of the country,” said Mr Kirkhope.
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