POLITICS

Ukip Cllr Trevor Shonk Says Labour & Tory Immigration Policies Have Made Britain Racist

26/12/2014 15:42 GMT | Updated 26/12/2014 15:59 GMT

The Ukip leadership has moved to distance the party from remarks by one of its councillors claiming an "overload" of immigrants had turned Britain into a racist country.

Trevor Shonk, who represents Ukip on Kent County Council and Ramsgate Town Council, blamed Labour and the Conservatives for allowing in more immigrants than the country could cope with.

"The two main parties that have been running this country have made the country racist because of the influx that we have had," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

"When I've done leaflets every shopkeeper, whether they are Asian or English born, they're concerned about the influx.

"It hasn't been staggered, it's just overload. We haven't got the care homes, we haven't got the houses for our own."

However Ukip deputy chairman Suzanne Evans rejected the suggestion that Britain was racist and said that Shonk "didn't express it as well as he could".

"I think Britain is actually a very accommodating country and I don't think by any stretch of the imagination can be termed racist," she told The World at One.

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"I know what councillor Shonk meant. Perhaps he didn't express it as well as he could. There has of course been a massive increase in immigration which people find incredibly difficult to deal with."

The latest comments come after Ukip parliamentary candidate Kerry Smith was forced to stand down over racist and homophobic comments he made.

Meanwhile another Ukip councillor in Kent, Martyn Heale, was reported to have spoken of his "regret" at having been a member of the far right National Front in the 1970s.

Heale, who was a Conservative activist for 20 years before joining Ukip a decade ago, would not be interviewed for broadcast, but told the BBC that it was "really depressing" to be reminded of his past.

"I obviously regret what I did," he told the BBC.

Evans complained that media reporting of Ukip was unfair, pointing out that Labour had councillors who had previously been in the National Front or the BNP while crimes involving councillors from other parties often went unreported in the national media.

"The media reporting of Ukip is not fair," she said. "I think the establishment is very upset with Ukip and the fact that it is shaking the cosy status quo, the stitch-up the three old parties have had between them.

"Ukip is standing up for things that good, honest, decent people care about."