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  1. ITV Report

Henry Bolton: Ukip leader refuses to quit over girlfriend's racist Meghan Markle messages

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Ukip leader Henry Bolton is resisting calls to resign after his now-ex-girlfriend made racist remarks about Meghan Markle.

Mr Bolton told ITV's Good Morning Britain he had ended the relationship with Jo Marney because of her "appalling words" and had "absolutely no idea" she held the views.

Ms Marney, 25, sent a series of messages to a friend in which she made offensive comments about Prince Harry's fiancée and black people.

Henry Bolton said he had 'no idea' his now-ex-girlfriend held racist views. Credit: Good Morning Britain, ITV

Among the messages, first reported in the Mail on Sunday, were remarks that Ms Markle would "taint" the Royal Family, that she had a "tiny brain" and that black people were ugly.

He initially tried to defend the comments, saying they had been "taken out of context" and part of a private discussion.

"These were Facebook messages at the time between her and somebody else which were not expected to be (made) public."

But he said: "I do not defend, support or agree with those comments. When I saw those comments I was appalled and shocked by them."

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Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Mr Bolton said Ms Marney had been suspended from the party "immediately upon us receiving this information".

Mr Bolton has faced calls to step down, with Ukip West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge telling him: "Go now. Go quietly and leave us to deal with what's left."

He said he would step down as a Ukip spokesman if Mr Bolton, who was elected leader last September, "insists on prolonging this agony".

Former Ukip leadership candidate Ben Walker also called for Mr Bolton to resign, accusing him of having "deeply flawed judgement".

He told ITV News that Mr Bolton must go and agreed there's a "strong argument" for winding up the party, which is "an embarrassment".

In a statement Ms Marney said: "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."

Mr 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, prior to his relationship with Ms Marney becoming 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 it had involved "a clandestine affair with a young lady who happens also to be a member of Ukip".