Nigel Farage defiant after ad campaign branded 'racist'

Nigel Farage at the launch of Ukip's European election campaign Credit: PA Images

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has spent the day defending his party against charges of racism, following the launch of its new advertising campaign in the lead up to next month's European elections.

Ukip's newest poster campaign provoked a strong reaction, drawing criticism by politicians from across the political spectrum.

The president of the Liberal Democrat Party, Tim Farron, attacked the campaign as "wrong, factually and morally" and "fundamentally very un-British." Tory backbencher Nicholas Soames said on Twitter that it was "deeply divisive, offensive and ignorant."

Prime Minister David Cameron did not directly give his opinion of the campaign, but said the Conservatives were the only party that would address the issue of change in Europe and re-negotiating Britain's position within the union. "Ukip simply want to get up and walk away, the Prime Minister and the party that is offering change... is the Conservative Party," the Prime Minister said.

Labour MP Mike Gapes said the campaign was "racist" and appealed to "all decent British Commonwealth and EU citizens" to register to vote in May's polls.

But Ukip leader Nigel Farage said those accusing the party of racism were trying to close down debate, adding that Ukip was "emphatically not a racist party."

He was questioned by journalists over his employment of his wife, a German immigrant, as his secretary.

Asked whether she had taken a job from a British person, he said this was not the case. He said he didn't believe anyone else would be keen to work unsociable hours, be available seven days a week, often working around 1am or 2am.

Ex-Tory donor Paul Sykes, second left, stands next to Nigel Farage at the campaign launch Credit: PA Images

Ukip's campaign has been funded by a former Tory party donor Paul Sykes. Writing in a national newspaper, he said he had put £1.5m towards it. Later, he said it was "worth every penny."

Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship has been looking at the launch of Ukip's European election campaign today.