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Farage shrugs off ex-candidate jibe

Nigel Farage has attempted to play down the resignation of a Ukip parliamentary hopeful as the party continued to shed candidates.

Tim Wilson, who was due to fight the Northamptonshire South seat for the eurosceptics, has quit over an alleged party gag on talking favourably about Islam and the "unforgivable racist abuse" meted out by an MEP.

Humza Yousaf, Scottish government Europe minister, earlier this month asked officials in Brussels to investigate after David Coburn compared him to Islamist terrorist Abu Hamza.

Mr Wilson told the Mail: "What Coburn said is unforgivable - it's racist abuse. It doesn't matter whether it was a private comment, or a public comment, this man has public office and he needs to filter the ridiculous thoughts that come from his brain.

"He should be dismissed from Ukip and held to account."

Mr Wilson said it was "unacceptable" for Mr Farage to dismiss the comments as a joke.

" If a leader cannot understand that it is the effect of his words not his intention that matters then maybe he too needs to consider his position and I would be the first to welcome Mr Farage into the political wilderness," he added.

Mr Wilson told party officials he had been "systematically gagged by the party 'whip' and forbidden to speak about Islam favourably", according to a letter seen by the Mail.

Mr Farage insisted that Mr Coburn's comment was "crass, not racist" and dismissed the former candidate as someone who "wanted to create a bit of a stir".

Speaking at a pub in Margate, Kent, Mr Farage told the Press Association: "Quite why somebody in Northamptonshire resigns over a comment made in Scotland.

"The comment made by David Coburn was made in very poor taste. I told him to his face. But the thought that that was a racist comment, sorry, I'm not computing. None of this adds up.

"These are the attacks the other sides put on us. I don't know Tim. I can only imagine he was very unhappy with the campaign or whatever it was he wanted to create a bit of a stir."

U kip earlier installed Harriet Yeo as its new general election candidate for Folkestone and Hythe after previous candidate Janice Atkinson was expelled over allegations of an inflated expenses claim.

Mr Yousaf said: "Ukip's pathetic response to religious hatred, racism and bigotry has exposed them as a party that is so out of touch with people that even their own senior members are abandoning them.

"I welcome Tim Wilson's resignation. He has demonstrated that he is unwilling to be associated with a party that allows Islamophobia to be rife within its ranks.

"Serious accusations have been made about UKIP actively preventing their members talking positively about Islam. Nigel Farage should heed warnings from his own members and demonstrate that he will not tolerate prejudice in any form by expelling David Coburn without any further delay."

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