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  1. ITV Report

Henry Bolton stands by lover but 'can't guarantee' Ukip leadership

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Angus Walker

Henry Bolton has told ITV News he "can't guarantee" he will still be Ukip leader by the end of the week as he declared that he is "standing by" his now ex-girlfriend in a racism storm.

Mr Bolton made a passionate defence of Jo Marney as the furore continued after her past comments on Facebook about Meghan Markle and black people became public.

The married 54-year-old earlier said he had dumped his 25-year-old partner, who he started dating after Christmas, as he condemned her remarks as "appalling".

But he later told ITV News the couple had "put our relationship on hold" and said he would be standing by Ms Marney.

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Mr Bolton said she had been left "almost suicidal" by the exposure and criticism of her comments.

"I'm standing by her," he said. "I'm absolutely supporting her and putting her life back together. She has been deliberately exploited ... in order to attack me.

"Jo has been almost suicidal and destroying someone's life is unforgivable no matter who they are."

The Ukip leader has resisted calls to stand down as he played down unrest in the party as "a couple of the former leadership contenders" still jostling for the position he gained last year.

But asked if he would still be in his role by Friday, he said: "It's a decision for the party... I can't guarantee it."

Mr Bolton insisted the furore over Ms Marney's comments would not hurt Ukip but warned his departure would leave it "severely damaged".

"There's no breaking up (of Ukip)," he said. "I'm receiving huge support from across the party at all levels to stay on."

Henry Bolton, seen addressing Ukip's conference last September, has resisted calls to stand down. Credit: PA

The Ukip leader said Ms Marney had "rightly" been suspended as a party member and added he was unaware of her views.

"We had been going out for four or five days when all this broke," he said.

"Jo has never expressed views of that nature to me at all, verbally or in writing. I was totally stunned.

"She's an intelligent woman. She's a bright lady. ... I certainly don't support or endorse in any way what she said."

In an earlier 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."