POLITICS

Ukip Councillor Says Business Owners Should Be Able To Refuse Women And Gays

05/03/2014 09:53 GMT | Updated 05/03/2014 14:59 GMT
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Update: Ukip councillor Donna Edmunds has expresssed "regret" over her remarks. Ukip has described Cllr Edmunds' remarks as "somewhat misguided" and stressed that it does not back them.

Ukip has sparked another political furore after a local councillor said that business owners should be able to refuse to serve women and gay people.

Donna Edmunds, a councillor in Lewes, East Sussex and parliamentary candidate, wrote in a forum post: "I believe that all business owners, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, should be allowed to withhold their services from whomever that choose whenever they choose.

“It’s their business. Why should they be forced to serve or sell to anyone?," the Argus reported.

Edmunds made her comments after being asked to say if she agreed with Henley Ukip councillor David Silvester in blaming the recent floods on the government's support for gay marriage, making clear that she disagreed with her party colleague on this point.

The Ukip councillor's remarks drew condemnation from other political parties. Giles Goodall, Lib Dem Euro candidate for the South East, told HuffPostUK: "Yet again Ukip have shown that they are the nasty party when it comes to rights for women and LGBT people."

Edmunds, who defected from the Tories to Ukip last January, expressed "regret" for making her controversial remarks.

In a statement, she said: "I regret what I wrote and can see how an essentially libertarian stance could be broadly misinterpreted. I in no way endorse any form of discrimination. I believe in cutting red tape for business and I also strongly believe in an individual’s personal and religious freedoms, but I stand against any form of prejudice.

"I hope this remark has not caused any embarrassment for the party.”

A Ukip spokesperson said: “Ms Edmunds comments appear somewhat misguided and we do not endorse the position intimated, but we believe she has apologised for the remarks.”

Edmunds is the latest in a series of Ukip councillors to cause controversy after the party was forced to distance itself from Cambridgeshire councillor Peter Lagoda over remarks during a visit to a fire station that forced one of the firefighters to officially complain.

Ukip's Highs And Lows

Others like Ukip councillor Samuel Fletcher were exposed for making odd comments on Facebook about a wide range of topics.