Belfast Telegraph

Murray too heavy for parachute jump

Comedian Al Murray had his hopes dashed of parachuting 12,000ft (3,658m) into Kent where he is taking on Ukip leader Nigel Farage in May's general election - because he is too heavy.

The star, in his guise as the Pub Landlord, had hoped to stage the stunt after saying he was "shocked" at claims he had been parachuted in to fight the South Thanet seat.

But amid an assembled hoard of journalists and cameramen, he learned at Headcorn Aerodrome near Ashford that he was heavier than the 14st 7lb (92kg) limit and too big to jump.

Murray blamed the metric scales he was weighed on and insisted the abandoned attempt now proved he was officially a "political heavyweight".

He told reporters: "Unfortunately today's stunt - and that was exactly what it was, a stunt to garner publicity it might generate - has had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

"It seems that I am too heavy to jump. It's a double whammy. Not only am I another tragic victim of this country's obesity epidemic, but also I have been held back by health and safety gone mad."

The 6ft 3in comic said he was unaware how much he weighed. He was asked whether Friday the 13th was the best day to perform such a stunt.

Murray, dressed in his trademark burgundy blazer, said: "I'm a true British man - I neither cry nor weigh myself on scales. Those are my values."

The comedian - whose Pub Landlord creation is famed for extolling the joys of all things British - is standing in South Thanet for his newly-formed Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP).

Oxford-educated Murray launched an action plan in January under the guise of his patriotic character in his bid to reach Parliament.

He included a pledge that the UK will leave Europe by 2025 "and the edge of the Solar System by 2050".

And he also has ideas on law and order, with a promise to tackle crime by locking up all unemployed people.

On the hot topic of immigration, he plans to stop people reaching the shores of "the greatest country in the world" by bricking up the Channel Tunnel - with British bricks and using Polish labour.

In a further bid to win over wavering voters, he has promised to introduce "1p a pint", although "crisps will remain at the current price".

A website has been set up for his campaign, carrying the slogan: "Other parties offer the moon on a stick. We'll do better than that: a British moon on a British stick."

Murray is standing in a constituency which the Conservative Party won from Labour at the previous election in 2010.

It is already the focus of huge attention due to Nigel Farage's decision to stand there as Ukip experiences a surge in support.

Ukip has welcomed the intervention of The Pub Landlord, with a spokesman for the Eurosceptics saying: "At last, serious competition in the constituency." And Mr Farage has said: "The more, the merrier."

South Thanet, which includes the coastal towns of Ramsgate, Sandwich and Broadstairs, has previously enjoyed a reputation as an electoral bellwether - held at every election since 1983 by the party that has formed the government of the day.

In nearby Wendover, Bucks, Ukip leader Nigel Farage expressed his doubts about the legitimacy of his rival candidate's campaign.

He said: "He's not even standing as himself, he's standing as his alter ego.

"It is a bit of a laugh and and I have no doubt that in terms of promotion for his tour around the UK he will make a lot of money off the back of it.

"I don't really think the joke is going to last that long."

Murray said his aborted parachute jump was due to "Brussels-based discrimination against people of my weight" as he visited the New Inn pub in the South Thanet town of Sandwich.

The comedian took along the 10 signatories who are supporting his bid to beat Mr Farage for a seat in Parliament.

He said: "Why a pub for this meeting? Because the pub is the cradle of democracy in a country that is the very mother of Parliaments."

He faced some tough questioning from one audience member who demanded to know why Murray was making a mockery of South Thanet.

But the comedian insisted his motivation was to get people to vote, adding: "I want to put Thanet on the map - as the most important constituency in the country."

On the question of the television debates, Murray said he would like to be a part of them, telling reporters: "I can stand and take this stuff, can't I?"

Later, Murray went on a walkabout in the streets of Sandwich, pursued by a media pack, stopping off at a fish and chip shop and a French delicatessen.

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