Under-fire Ukip leader Henry Bolton claimed his controversial ex-girlfriend’s leaked texts were “doctored”, after being spotted having an intimate dinner with her just days after claiming their relationship was over.
The anti-Brexit campaigner was seen giving kisses on the cheeks to Jo Marney while the pair dined in the exclusive National Liberal Club in the heart of Westminster.
In leaked text messages published by the Mail on Sunday, Marney reportedly said Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle would “taint” the Royal Family, that she had a “tiny brain” and that black people were ugly.
She was also reported to have made comments about the sexual abuse of babies while discussing animal rights - messages which the Ukip leader claims were “doctored”.
As the pair left the club on Wednesday evening, Bolton launched a staunch defence of Marney, telling HuffPost UK she had been “exploited by my political enemies” and the controversy over her remarks was beginning to “fade away.”
One club member remarked it did not seem like the pair were no longer an item as they enjoyed a meal while overlooking the River Thames and taking in the view of the London Eye and the South Bank.
The pair left the club together just after 9.30pm, where HuffPost UK asked the Ukip leader whether the pair had rekindled their romance.
Bolton said: “I’ve just given an interview to somebody else today so just coordinating. Jo’s had some death threats against her today and so she wanted to speak to me about that. She’s now going back to Maidstone and I’m now going back home.”
The former soldier, who was only elected Ukip leader four months ago, vowed to stay on in his role, despite members of his party resigning their frontbench roles in protest at his leadership.
Bolton left his wife for Marney – a move which some claimed went against the ‘family man’ image he put forward in last year’s leadership contest.
When asked by HuffPost UK if even maintaining a friendship with Marney undermines his position as leader, Bolton replied: “I said very clearly what’s happened in the last weeks or so has actually starting to fade away now.
“There’s going to be more news coming out tomorrow in relation to how some of this information was obtained and the fact that some of it was doctored before it was published.
“These are facts that are going to out there in the coming hours so I’ve said very publicly that although the romantic side of our relationship is now over I’m supporting Jo and her family in trying to put things back together again – absolutely.
“What’s happened is that a young woman has been effectively exploited by my political enemies who feel they can’t challenge me in open political debate on my leadership and on my politics.
“What I’d say to them is: you want to challenge my leadership, you want to challenge my politics, do it in an open forum, do it openly, do not do it covertly and exploit anybody in doing so because to do so is despicable, particularly the way they’ve gone about it.”
After this article was published, a Ukip spokesman contacted HuffPost UK to clarify it was Jo Marney’s texts about the sexual abuse of babies that Henry Bolton believes were doctored, not her texts about Meghan Markle.