Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom 'Regrets' Controversial 'Bongo Bongo Land' Remarks

Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom 'Regrets' Controversial 'Bongo Bongo Land' Remarks

The Ukip MEP who caused a stir by referring collectively to countries that receive aid from the United Kingdom as "bongo bongo land" has apologised - sort of.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Godfrey Bloom said: "I used a term which I subsequently gather under certain circumstances could be interpreted as pejorative."

He added: "Although quite clearly no such personal usage was intended, I understand from Ukip party chairman Steve Crowther and leader Nigel Farage that I must not use the terminology in the future, nor will I and sincerely regret any genuine offence which might have been caused or embarrassment to my colleagues."

The apology came after Bloom spent much of the day resolutely defending his comments.

And the MEP said despite the controversy he was pleased that the furore had ensured a public debate about development aid.

"My aim, successful as it appears, was to demonstrate the immorality of sending £1 billion per month abroad when we are desperately short of money here," he said.

"Ring fenced overseas aid at nearly 70% of estimated GDP growth next year, some to buy arms - Mirage fighters in Argentina is just one example. My constituents come first and always will, they put me here to speak for them."

Earlier, Bloom told Sky News he did not believe the phrase "bongo bongo land" was racist, suggesting it only offended those in the "Westminster bubble" and that his constituents in Yorkshire did not take offence.

Bloom insisted he was trying to open up debate on Britain's overseas aid spending, saying he was standing up for ordinary people and that he believed charity begins at home.

He had told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "If I've offended anybody in bongo bongo land, I shall write to the ambassador at the Court of St James's and apologise to him personally."

Ukip chairman Steve Crowther admitted the term "could seem disparaging" but denied it was racist.

He told Sky News: "It's very odd to be asked why something isn't racist. In my opinion it is a rather outdated description of foreign parts.

"To me it doesn't sound like anybody banging drums. It sounds like a shorthand way of saying places around the world which are in receipt of foreign aid.

"It's not in itself the right word to use and it could seem disparaging to people who come from foreign countries and that's why I've asked him not to do it again."

Bloom's reference to "bongo bongo land" was revealed in a video of a July speech in Wordsley, near Stourbridge.

In the video, obtained by the Guardian, Bloom says: "How we can possibly be giving a billion pounds a month, when we're in this sort of debt, to bongo bongo land is completely beyond me.


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