UK

BBC Question TIme: Piers Morgan Asks Ukip's Douglas Carswell If He's Ashamed At Nigel Farage's HIV Comments

17/04/2015 10:54 BST | Updated 01/05/2015 10:59 BST

Douglas Carswell has dodged saying whether, as the son of one of the world's most eminent researchers into HIV, he is embarrassed by his party leader saying Britain should stop foreigners with the disease being treated on the NHS.

Carswell, who became Ukip's first elected MP last year, was attacked during Question Time by Piers Morgan, who asked whether Nigel Farage's previous comments left him feeling "ashamed" at Farage's comments that "our parents wouldn't get hospital beds because foreigners with HIV would be soaking up our money".

At the seven-way election debate earlier in the campaign, Farage said 60% of the 7,000 diagnosed with HIV in the UK every year are not British nationals.

"They can come into Britain from anywhere in the world and get diagnosed with HIV and get the retro-viral drugs that cost up to £25,000 per year per patient," he said.

Carswell's father is Wilson Carswell, a physician who worked in Uganda in the 1970s and 1980s and was among the first to identify the disease.

douglas carswell piers morgan

Carswell as Morgan asked his question

He shifted uncomfortably as Morgan asked his question, after Carswell denied his party was "anti-foreigner".

Morgan asked: "I would like to ask you whether you feel ashamed at what Nigel Farage said about the stigmatisation of foreigners coming here with such a crippling, awful disease. And whether you feel happy he is trying to get himself elected on a ticket of 'don't let people come into this country'."

Sensing the audience was against him, Carswell replied "I think it's entirely legitimate and right that we should expect our National Health Service to be a National Health Service and not an International Health Service."

"If someone were to fly into this country with no prior connection to this country at all and fly in specifically to access treatment to which they weren't entitled, I think most people would accept that is wrong."

With hostility brewing, he added: "Hang on, I feel this... I grew up in Uganda in the 1980s and I feel very strongly about this.

"The story of HIV has also been the story of enormous progress, advances in medical science, for which I think people should celebrate, people now have access to retro-viral treatments, which means that people who 20 years ago, people that I knew."

At this point, Morgan let rip and shouted over Carswell as he tried to speak:

Piers Morgan: But why would Nigel Farage isolate HIV as a stick to beat people with? Why stigmatise those people?

Douglas Carswell: I think prejudice has been overcome in Africa and in here and around the world...

Piers Morgan: So why increase it now then?

Douglas Carswell: It's entirely legitimate that during an election...

Piers Morgan: You're fomenting this!

Douglas Carswell: ...that during a campaign, you can raise the issue of how we pay. whether or not our health service can bear the cost of treating people.

When David Dimbleby asked why Farage had singled out the disease, Carswell said "You'll have to ask Nigel", prompting the host to point out: "Well, you speak to him more than I do."

He added: "It's entirely legitimate to make the point."

Dimbleby asked whether Farage's HIV comments embarrassed Carswell but the Ukip MP continued: "Also important to point out there has been enormous progress in fighting this terrible disease and that's something we should celebrate."

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